At the risk of sending our blog off on a tangent, I think we should consider one other aspect of the Mormonism/religious studies/BYU issue: what about the redder, better, and more secular school slightly north of Provo? Why doesn’t the University of Utah have a religious studies department? Harris Lenowitz, professor of Hebrew and Judaism at the U of U, once answered this question. But what do you think?
Regardless of whether or not the Utah legislature is to blame, we can all be fairly sure that it’s not for lack of interest. Most people I know from the U of U would have loved to take more classes in religion (and not just at the institute). The interest is there, the resources could easily be brought in, so what is stopping the U of U from developing a program in religion? It seems to me that Lenowitz may be right. If that’s the case, perhaps we should be concerned about how the new Mormon studies chairs will be funded. I’ve heard arguments on both sides. Some professors I’ve spoken with say that funding is really a non-issue, while others are worried that academic freedomwill be limited on account of the donors.
2 Replies to “Mormon Studies, Big Money and U.”
Thank is a very good question. It’s unfortunate that they don’t have a focused program, but I have been surprised they do have a interesting variety of religious classes throughout the departments.As an anthropology student, they offer several courses in Anthropology of Mormonism, Judaism, Native American Religion, Religion in Latin America, and one I took called Myth, Magic, and Religion. Also, I have taken classes in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Cunieform Cultures, which touches on a variety of relgious subjects, from a historical perspective. I noticed the history deparment has a class called Ancient Israel and Palestine and some classes about the Reformation, the Medieval Church, and Christianity. The philosophy dept has a World Religions, Ancient Greek Religion, and Hindu relgion classes. Of course, there is a Hebrew and Classic Greek department, where some of the upper-division classes you can study biblical texts. I’m probably missing quite a few more classes throughout the school, but this is what I have seen.It would be interesting if a student pursured the Undergraduate Studies degree program, where you fashion your own independent program of study, and created a religious studies program. It would be interesting who would notice.
There are also classes in the English department on religion and literature that I highly reccomend. Oh, and a class called “religion and politics.” The trick is finding an undergraduate major with enough leniency to piece together a religion program. It’s almost possible with an “American Studies” Masters Program. There, they really encourage you to take classes all over and fashion your own program. The only downside is that you have to take exams on American Literature.