The 2017-2018 Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Mormon Studies is Katy Mohrman. Read more about her on the program faculty page.
To further the study of Mormonism in a wide variety of ways, the University has established a nationally competitive postdoctoral fellowship in the study of Mormonism. The Fellowship seeks candidates whose research focus, irrespective of discipline, has promise to illuminate the subject of Mormonism or whose research interest would be furthered by the study of Mormonism. The Post-doctoral Fellowship optimizes Program resources by educating three times the number of professionals as would a doctoral fellowship. Moreover, it focuses on the most formative period in their professional development.
Mormon studies at Virginia is an inherently interdisciplinary program with a strong emphasis on history. It is strengthened by placement in a university ranked number two among the nation’s public universities, and twenty-third overall. Mormon studies at Virginia is further distinguished by its association with an unusually large Religious Studies Department, which by definition brings a variety of academic disciplines together in a single faculty. These circumstances invited extending the program’s reach beyond its typical disciplinary domain in history. Doing so gives Virginia’s program an identity among the various and increasing number of programs doing some form of Mormon studies, and maximizes resources.
This is especially true when speaking of financial resources. Given the minimum of five years it takes to complete a doctoral degree, the program’s funding is most efficiently used to mentor already credentialed academics through one-year postdoctoral fellowships. A postdoctoral fellowship is an award of financial support to one who has completed the requirements for a doctoral degree and provides an additional year of training under the supervision of a senior faculty member. Such fellowships are designed to deepen an existing specialty and develop new areas of expertise. This is facilitated by teaching assignments, as well as by research opportunities.
Having established the Bushman Chair in Mormon Studies and at least one course a year on Mormonism, Virginia is positioned to provide such mentoring and teaching opportunities to persons in the early years of their professional formation. In return, the Mormon Studies Program will produce greater numbers of academics knowledgeable about Mormonism and able to integrate it in the college curriculum. The competitive nature of the fellowship application process allows selection of persons with a known likelihood of faculty appointment at the conclusion of their fellowship.
The fellowship is dedicated to the same goals as the Bushman Chair, as stipulated in the original donor agreement. Its purpose is to “increase the understanding of Mormonism” and is not limited to a specific discipline.
The Mormon Studies Postdoctoral Fellow is required to teach two courses, one in his or her specific area of expertise and the other on Mormonism, through the lens of that expertise. We collaborate with appropriate departments and programs across the University to fully integrate the Fellow into the educational mission of the College and to build the presence of the Mormon studies program at the University. The Fellow is also expected to give at least one public lecture that is open to the community. The fellowship is extremely competitive and highly visible in the field.
There is no doubt that the postdoctoral fellowship in Mormon studies will have a major and lasting impact. Thanks to its broad and interdisciplinary conception, it will seed the study of Mormonism in a variety of academic fields and populate classrooms with persons having knowledge of Mormonism and a respectful attitude towards it. Additionally, it fosters new relationships between Mormon studies and other departments at Virginia. It cultivates goodwill within the Religious Department by giving its faculty a new colleague every one to two years, whose presence and participation keeps the program dynamic and exciting. Graduate students, too, benefit from the attention of an early career scholar full of enthusiasm, energy, and intellectual experimentation; thus, strengthening their cohort and their understanding of the range of Mormon studies.
Finally, the Postdoctoral Fellowship expresses the larger vision of Mormon studies at Virginia: to optimize the extraordinary resources at the University to exceed the boundaries of the University, promoting the study of Mormonism throughout the academy and its many disciplines.