Southern Methodist University created the Center for Faith and Learning to promote greater integration of intellectual and spiritual life, both on campus and in society more broadly. Rooted in and inspired by the University’s Christian heritage and United Methodist affiliation, the Center seeks to help SMU students, faculty, and staff discern and develop connections between their religious convictions and their academic and professional work. In addition, the Center seeks to highlight and to promote dialogue surrounding the relevance of faith-based perspectives to fundamental questions in every area of intellectual inquiry and public life.

Our programs foster intellectual and spiritual development of undergraduate and graduate SMU students. Promoting greater integration of religious faith with academic study, these programs help students discern a sense of vocation across a broad range of intellectual inquiry and professional work.

Our programs highlight the contributions of faith-based perspectives to understanding and addressing fundamental questions in the arts, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences, and professions for the entire University community—and beyond.

We encourage all members of the University community to consider the relationship between SMU’s religious identity and heritage, and its mission of teaching, research, and service. We also foster dialogue about what it means to be simultaneously grounded in a Christian faith tradition and open to people and ideas of all religious and secular perspectives.

Faith and Learning Scholars

The Faith & Learning Scholars program gives students the opportunity to integrate their faith with their academic work and career vocations. The program enriches and deepens students' intellectual and spiritual lives through:

  • Small group interaction with faculty mentors
  • Individual reading and reflection

Over 60 students will participate as Scholars for the 2023-24 academic year. Nearly 200 students have successfully completed or are currently engaged in the Faith and Learning Scholars program since its inception in 2016.

Symposium and Events

Annual Symposium

Our 2023 Symposium was entitled "Faith and the Awakened Brain: How Spirituality Fosters Mental Health." Our keynote speaker is Dr. Lisa Miller, a New York Times best selling author and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. Dr. Miller is joined by panelists Rev. Dr. Lyn Pace, Chaplain at Oxford College of Emory University, and Dr. Farnoosh Nouri, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Counseling at SMU and practicing psychotherapist. A recording of this year's symposium is available here on the Center for Faith and Learning YouTube channel.

Lisa Miller, Ph.D., is the New York Times bestselling author of The Spiritual Child and her new bestselling book, The Awakened Brain. She is a Full Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she founded the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, the first Ivy League graduate program and research institute in spirituality and psychology. She has held over a decade of joint appointments in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University Medical School. Her innovative research has been published in more than one hundred peer-reviewed articles in leading journals, including Cerebral Cortex, The American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Miller is Editor of the Oxford University Press Handbook of Psychology and Spirituality, Founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of the APA journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, an elected Fellow of The American Psychological Association (APA), and the two-time President of the APA Society for Psychology and Spirituality. A graduate of Yale University and University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her doctorate under the founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, she has served as Principal Investigator on multiple grant-funded research studies. Dr. Miller speaks and consults around The Awakened Brain and The Spiritual Child for the US Military, businesses (including tech, finance, HR, and sales), personal development, faith-based organizations, schools and universities, and for mental health and wellness initiatives.

The Rev. Dr. Lyn Pace (he/him) has been the college chaplain at Oxford College of Emory University since July 2009. A lifelong United Methodist, Lyn was ordained an elder in the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2005. His first book was released in late 2022, The Sacred Year: A Contemplative Journey Through the Liturgical Year. Prior to coming to Oxford, Pace was the Associate Chaplain, Director of Service Learning, and Director of the Bonner Scholars Program at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 2003-2009. From 2002-2003, he served as a minister in the British Methodist Church on the Isle of Wight in England. In 2017, Lyn graduated with his Doctor of Ministry degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University with a focus on community engagement, specifically the town-gown relationship between the college and local city of Oxford, Georgia. Pace earned his BA degree in Religion and History from Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) in 1999 and received the Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology in 2002. Lyn is married to Ami Hernández, the career counselor at Oxford College, and they have one child, Sam (10), as well as a dog. They live in the city of Oxford, where Lyn served on the City Council from 2012-2016. Lyn enjoys music of all kinds but especially going to Jimmy Buffett concerts. He's an avid reader, runner, and lover of good food, especially when it involves fathering family, friends, and neighbors around the table!

Dr. Farnoosh Nouri is a Clinical Assistant Professor at SMU; she has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 25 years. Farnoosh is the author of the book So Long Depression, editor of the Sufi Psychology Journal, and an international presenter on various topics related to mental health and spirituality in psychotherapy. She was a recipient of a group research grant from the John Templeton Foundation entitled "The Integration of the Heart-Centered Paradigm of Sufi Psychology in Contemporary Psychotherapy," published in the APA journal Psychotherapy. Her most extensive research has been on the groundbreaking topic of "Electromagnetic Aftereffects of Near-Death Experiences" published in the IANDS Journal. Farnoosh is also a Tamarkoz® (MTO Sufi Meditation) instructor. In her practice, she works with clients on various mental health challenges including trauma, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and personal and spiritual growth. She loves to spend time with her family. Her happy place is the beach, and she gets energized by quiet moments, self-reflection, and meditation.

Lecture Forum

Lectures hosted by the Center for Faith and Learning allow faculty and visiting scholars who are leaders in their fields to share the impact of Christian theological resources on their research and teaching. These lectures offer insight and different perspectives, creating an open environment for future conversations between students and faculty regarding related topics.

Meet the leadership and staff for the Center