For theological, historical, and cultural reasons, Mormons are inclined to associate. Mormonism has roots in nineteenth-century communitarianism and especially through its experience in the U.S. West, it developed a sense of peoplehood both shaped and strengthened by territorial dominion and the complex social institutions required by colonization. Theologically, Mormonism allows very little separation between the spiritual and the material, and even today it pervades the believer’s ordinary life: not merely at worship, but home, work and leisure. Therefore, it is not surprising that its membership is inclined to associate but has created hundreds of unofficial societies and organizations. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but to highlight those associations which are devoted to the professional study of Mormonism.
Association of Mormon Letters (1976) was organized to promote the writing and study of LDS literature. Currently the association holds annual conferences, offers awards in literature, drama, and film, publishes an online literary magazine, Irreantum, and a literature blog.
John Whitmer Historical Association (1972) is an independent, scholarly society primarily interested in Mormonism’s historical “Restoration Movement.” In addition to hosting an annual conference, it publishes a scholarly journal, newsletter, and books emphasizing early Mormon movements and eastern branches of Mormonism.
Mormon History Association (1965) was organized by professional historians and reflects the transition in the American academy from “church” to “religious” history. It publishes the Journal of Mormon History, a newsletter, holds annual conferences, and offers awards for publications on Mormonism.
Mormon Scholars in the Humanities (2007) was formed to provide a forum for LDS humanities scholars to reflect on connections between religion and research. The association hosts an annual conference and it values creating community amongst LDS scholars across religious and secular institutions.
Dialogue Foundation (1966) publishes Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, which accepts submissions of articles, personal essays, creative writing, and sermons from any denomination that engage issues of contemporary interest to Latter-day Saints. By LDS traditionalists, the Foundation is viewed as the loyal opposition.
Sunstone Foundation (1975) was designed as an open forum for student comment on all things Mormon, without academic or ecclesiastical restraints. Today, the founding mission is reflected on their website, which states that there is “More than one way to Mormon.” The foundation sponsors an annual symposium, regional meetings, and online content across a variety of genres.
Claremont Graduate University Mormon Studies Program (2002) seeks to promote both the academic and public understanding of Mormonism, particularly as it is situated as an American religion with origins in the modern world. In 2008, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies was established.
Arrington Chair of Mormon Studies at Utah State University (2006) is part of Utah State University’s Religious Studies Program, which offers courses in Mormonism and an annual Arrington Mormon History Lecture. The chair was established to bring an understanding of LDS heritage, history, and culture into mainstream conversation.
Mormon Studies Initiative at the University of Utah (2010) fosters the intellectual exploration of all traditions that acknowledge roots to Joseph Smith. It offers courses in Mormonism, a graduate research fellowship, the Dean May Colloquium, conferences, and several digital humanities projects, including the Century of Black Mormons.
Global Mormon Studies is based out of the University of Auckland and aims to unite scholars from around the world interested in the study of Mormonism. This group holds conferences, shares a resource library with bibliographies and links to primary sources, and posts profiles of affiliated researchers.
Neal A. Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University (2006) is a community of disciple-scholars whose work aims to bolster Latter-day Saints. The institute publishes Journal of the Book of Mormon Studies, the book series Brief Theological Introductions, and books with a strong emphasis on personal reflection.
Comparative Mormon Studies Program at Utah Valley University is an interdisciplinary program that offers courses in anthropology, communications, English, and religious studies. The program has a particular focus on comparative studies and interreligious understanding. They also host a conference and lecture series.