The Mormon Theology Seminar is an independent, scholarly forum committed to organizing short-term, seminar-style collaborations that consider specific questions about Mormon theology through close readings of foundational Mormon texts. As a part of this work, the Seminar also publicly archives the findings of these study groups.


Focused Collaboration

The Seminar’s primary aim is to create a common space where theological work can be undertaken in a way that is both concentrated and collaborative.
The Seminar means to avoid two difficulties that traditionally plague such scholarly work. On the one hand, focused theological work is typically an individual affair and the spaces that support this work tend to reinforce isolation and idiosyncrasy. For instance, the writing of conference papers and journal articles tends to be relatively private work that only briefly flares in the common space of a presentation or publication. On the other hand, common spaces typically conducive to spirited discussion and collaboration generally tend to preclude focused and sustained concentration. Exchanges on blogs and discussion lists, for example, while often invigorating and instructive, consistently lack focus and resolution. In short, collaboration tends to diffuse concentration, and vice versa.
In order to address the apparent difficulty of coupling collaboration and concentration, the Seminar organizes small, temporary study groups (seminars) designed to facilitate collaborative engagement in focused readings of primary Mormon texts.

Seminar Organization

Seminars are organized along the following lines:
(1) Seminar typically consist of 6 people, preferably including both men and women, and preferably with a variety of backgrounds.
(2) Online seminars typically collaborate for a period of 3-4 months. Live seminars typically collaborate for two weeks.
(3) Seminars are organized around the reading of a small selection from a Mormon text (typically just one or two chapters). An agreed upon reading schedule paces the work.
(4) Prior to the work of reading itself, seminar participants formulate a provisional set of key questions in order focus discussions and aid in formulating concise summaries of their findings. These questions may be freely modified, extended, or replaced as the seminar proceeds.
(5) Members of the seminar take turns leading discussions that address the current reading assignment in view of the seminar’s key questions.
(6) At the conclusion of the seminar, the participants co-author a concise report summarizes their provisional findings. In addition to the joint report, participants also typically compose individual papers prompted by their work in the seminar.
(7) Reports and individual papers are then presented and published or archived.
Presently, seminars are commissioned to address specific texts and topics. Some seminars are conducted principally online. Other seminars, like the Summer Seminar in Mormon Theology offered in partnership with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, are conducted in-person.