Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Will Do Scholarship, For Food

Last week I discovered a great resource in the form of the Mormon Social Science Association. As the name indicates, this is a professional association devoted to the academic study of Mormonism from the perspective of the social sciences. Membership is a bargain at $10 annually, and I have found it very helpful as in the case of receiving some bibliographical suggestions for research on my PhD on Mormon narrative from the noted Mormon sociologist Armand Mauss.

Another interesting aspect of the site was its mention of scholarships for graduate studies in Mormonism through The Fellowship in Mormon Studies as part of The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah. Through a grant from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, The Tanner Humanities Center has established the Eccles Fellowship in Mormon Studies. The award has been designated to support two doctoral students in researching and writing their dissertations. This program is described as follows:

"This fellowship targets Ph.D. candidates across the United States and the world who are researching the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its members, and Mormon culture in the fields of History, Anthropology, Sociology, Education, Economics, Business, Political Science, Religion, or Literature. Through publications, work in the classroom, and in public forums, these future academics, writers, and teachers will have an impact on the study of Mormonism and on students and the general population.

"This fellowship is the first in the United States and the world to focus specifically on Mormon Studies. In offering this opportunity at the University of Utah, the Center recognizes the important and unrivaled archival resources for research located in Salt Lake City and Utah. It also begins to redress the imbalance of opportunities facing those who choose to study Mormonism as opposed to Judaism, Catholicism, or Islam. This fellowship will also enhance the recent trend that seeks to raise Mormon Studies to a new standard of academic excellence."

This is a great idea. If Mormon studies is to be taken more seriously as an area of academic research, and if a greater understanding of Mormonism is to take place through scholarship, then financial support must be provided that will enable scholars to pursue their research interests. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am scheduled to begin a PhD research program through the University of Durham under Douglas Davies, and in order to do this I will need to raise the tuition for the six-year part-time program. Unfortunately, it does not appear that my circumstances and research program through University of Durham qualify for the Fellowship Applications for 2009-2010. If any of my readers know of those interested in supporting the academic study of Mormonism through individuals, fellowships, grants or other sources please get in touch with me. I feel like the individual in the picture accompanying this post: I may not be doing academics for food, but I'd like to do it with a scholarship. Hopefully I won't have to hold up a sign outside Wal-Mart.

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