About a year ago we put up a post discussing the search for a professor of Ancient Scripture in BYU’s School of Religious Education. This year they are again looking for a professor of Ancient Scripture. This search, however, is somewhat different than the previous one. I’d like to point out some of the differences between the two and raise an issue about the LDS notion of ‘education’.
One of the first things you’ll notice is the brevity of this search listing (when compared with the previous one). The length of this listing actually conforms to standard academic job postings (see any of the other faculty listings at BYU, for instance). I’m not sure what to make of this change, but the length of the last posting was a central issue in our previous discussion.
Notice that this position has a 6-6-3 teaching load; meaning that prof teaches 6 classes in the fall semester, 6 classes in the winter semester, and 3 classes in one of the two spring/summer terms. The previous listing was for a 5-4-2 teaching load. My sense is that this listing is for one of the ‘teaching positions’ that they hold for professors that do not have publishing expectations (I believe there’s one or two in both the Ancient Scripture and Church History departments in RE).
Related to the previous point, this search targets all PhDs; whereas the last, while open for all to apply, targeted those with training in “ancient scripture”. I take this to mean that this position is primarily for those in CES (trained in family science, or other fields not necessarily related to religion).
Now, I don’t want this to turn into a bashing of the BYU RE department. The issue I do want to raise, however, is related to my previous post regarding an out-come centered style of pedagogy employed by CES (and the Church in general). In that thread I explained that the learning of factual knowledge, from the perspective of CES, is valued according to the consequences it brings about. It is a means to an end, and not an end-in-itself; where “end” refers to stronger activity in the Church. To put it plainly, what is important is membership and activity in the Church, even more so than having a sophisticated understanding of our history (but at the same time we don’t want people to be ignorant of that history).
I’d like to reframe that issue, and perhaps put it into more plain language. To state it simply, to what degree should continued activity in the Church be the measure of success for the School of Religious Education? How is this different from the goals of other departments? Isn’t a sign of success for the School of Communication, for instance, turning out “active” journalists? Are people with EdDs or PhDs in the sciences, therefore, as qualified to bring about this goal as those with PhDs in religious studies?