Brian Birch Introductory Remarks
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we began having these annual Mormon Studies Conferences. Eugene England spearheaded Mormons studies here at UVU 11 years ago, we’re trying hared to perpetuate his legacy, and see his vision through. We’ve seen in the last decade dramatic changes in the academic study of Mormonism. As you know, a handful of institutions have recognized the academic study of Mormonism as something important in the academy and worthwhile to support.
One of the most exciting developments, is the pioneering work of Dr. Wesley Johnson and his wife Marian Johnson on the Mormon Diaspora which opens up new vistas for understanding 20th century Mormonism and its place in the broader sweep of American culture. As Mormons attended Stanford, George Washington University, Harvard, etc., they shaped Mormonism in these communities and contributed to changes in the conceptualization of Mormonism by outsiders. This conference brings together out-migrants’ biographers and Mormon Studies scholars to understand this boarder phenomenon. This project presents a number of questions. Some examples of questions include: How was the LDS church affected and shaped by outmigration? How did out-migrants contribute to their local societies? What challenges did they overcome as Mormons who pursued education and sought to maintain their place as a peculiar people?
This massive project has been 20 years in the making, and culminates in some degree with this conference and the announcement of the donations of the outmigration materials to BYU.
We hope you’ll enjoy the conference.