U. of U. creates Mormon studies fellowship

The University of Utah's Tanner Humanities Center is taking applications for a new fellowship in Mormon Studies for the 2009-2010 academic year.

With a $36,000 grant from the George S. and Dolores Dore' Eccles Foundation, the U. is offering two $18,000 stipends to doctoral students for research on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its members, or its culture in the fields of history, anthropology, sociology, education, economics, business, political science, religion or literature.

"It's a matter of academic justice," said Bob Goldberg, the center's director. "There would not be a question if we were in New York City and wanted to establish a course in Jewish studies, or in Chicago, Baltimore or Boston and wanted to start a course in Catholic studies. This is a perfect place to do research on Mormonism. To me, it's a no-brainer."

The U.'s is the first such fellowship in the nation, but joins a growing list of colleges that offer some coursework in Mormon studies, including Claremont College in southern California, Utah State University, Vanderbilt University and the University of North Carolina, to name a few.

"Mormonism is growing into a viable subject of research, gaining attention nationwide," U. history professor Paul Reeve said Friday. "This fellowship will help increase the scholarly interest in the topic and ensure that graduate students who are studying Mormon history have access to all the best sources, located at the LDS archives here, the U. and at USU."

Goldberg and Reeve have contacted all the other schools with Mormon courses and have received nothing but enthusiastic responses, Reeve said. "I am very optimistic."