An Appeal to the BYU Board of Trustees: Please Trust Your Faculty

The appeal that follows is undergirded by a simple but unproven (at least not by me) set of assumptions that flows from my experience at BYU(-Provo) and with numerous BYU faculty currently employed. As I said at the end of part 2: The vast majority of BYU faculty members want BYU to succeed as a uniquely LDS university. They care very much about its students and their success in negotiating a transition to adulthood as faithful Latter-day Saints. They have deep experience stemming from their own … [Read more...]

Academic Freedom at BYU, Part 2: The Role of the Academic Vice President

(Part 1 here; part 3 is now up).Faculty issues at BYU are funneled through the office of the Academic Vice President. For our purposes it is important to know that the office of the AVP deals with faculty hiring and firing, promotion and “tenure” (“Continuing Faculty Status”*) and discipline. Thus when a department sends one of its own up for tenure, it will pass through the offices of the Chair, Dean, and AVP. Promotion can be vetoed at any of these levels, including the AVP. This is fairly … [Read more...]

On Academic Freedom at BYU, Part 1: The BYU Statement

[Part two; part three]The question of academic freedom at Brigham Young University provides an interesting case study in the dynamics of power and the pursuit of truth and the consequences of the concentration of power in a theologically defined hierarchy. Part 1 will explore the principles of academic freedom at BYU as expressed in its statement dated 1 April 1993 (available online, though a version dated Sept 14, 1992 was still handed to new faculty as of the end of the first decade of the … [Read more...]

Religious Education for the Modern World

The situation regarding the new CES/Religious Education curriculum at BYU has got me thinking about the purpose of religious education at BYU (and throughout CES generally). The instructors and professors have the difficult task of ensuring that students acquire an understanding of Mormonism in a context of faith. One place where I think the current approach falls short is in preparing LDS students to think about (and live) our faith in a broader context. Students ought to understand what it … [Read more...]

Religious Education’s New Curriculum: A Tale of Two Authorities

The Church has decided to revamp the curriculum for the Church Educational System, which includes Institute programs and (more relevant for this post) BYU’s schools of Religious Education. Whereas the previous curriculum required four courses—two courses on the Book of Mormon, one course on the Doctrine and Covenants, and one course on the New Testament; the new curriculum will require four courses with the following titles: Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel, Teachings and Doctrines of the … [Read more...]

10 Reasons to be Excited about the Study of Religion at BYU

In the spirit of the 10 tidbits series at FPR, I offer (for once!) a positive outlook on Religious Studies at BYU. Good things (too) are happening in Provo! In no particular order, and with no pretensions of comprehensiveness: … [Read more...]

Approaching Antiquity: BYU Church History Symposium 2013

Joseph Smith

In case you haven't seen it, take a break from Wheat and Tares Apologizing and attend the BYU Church History Symposium on Joseph Smith's Study of the ancient world. Richard Bushman, Sam Brown, Matt Bowman, and many more! Looks to be, um, historic! … [Read more...]

Apologists at War: Religious Studies is Not the Enemy

The Maxwell Institute's removal of Daniel Peterson as editor of the Mormon Studies Review continues to raise the issue of the appropriateness of apologetics at institutions such as BYU (for a more recent discussion, see here)--on the one hand BYU has a mission to "build the kingdom" so to speak, and on the other hand BYU is working to establish a legitimate academic presence in fields such as religious studies. There are some that see these two goals as largely exclusive of each other. This … [Read more...]


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