Past, Present, and Possible Futures of Mormon Studies

September 28, 2015

Brian Birch and Spencer Fluhman look at the “Past, Present, and Possible Futures of Mormon Studies” at this Mormon Matters podcast. From the website: “The academic study of religion has been around for a long time. And although there are many examples of books and articles that have used academic lenses to explore various aspects of Mormonism, it’s only in the past two decades that we’ve begun to see the formal rise of “Mormon Studies.” In this episode, Brian Birch and Spencer Fluhman, two thought leaders in this emerging field, help us understand Mormon Studies. What types of inquiry fit under this umbrella term–and how settled is the definition? What are the key developments in the growth of the field? What institutions have Mormon Studies programs or are otherwise engaged in teaching of Mormonism in the academy? What are the prospects for the field’s continued growth, and do prospective students have reasons to be cautious about finding academic careers should they make Mormon Studies one of their primary areas of emphasis? Birch and Fluhman are very forthcoming about these and other questions, and they also let us peek a little bit behind the curtain into past and contemporary debates at places and organizations such as Utah Valley University and the Brigham Young University religion department, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, as well as the Mormon Studies Review and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. Along with Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon, who also has studied religion in the academy, they also share their own experiences studying their religion through academic lenses. How has it benefited their feeling at home within Mormonism? What other payoffs from their academic work have they felt in their own spiritual journeys?”