Dr. John A. Widtsoe was a preeminent scholar, university president and LDS Church Apostle, and the first Mormon scholar to be invited to teach classes in Mormonism in a secular university. His 1935 lectures at USC began the Church’s reach into the world of comparative religious studies. Today, the John A. Widtsoe Foundation aspires to build on his legacy of scholarly engagement and become the leading voice for LDS perspectives on religious and spiritual issues and doctrine in the global ecumenical community by:
Instituting a world-class scholarly center for Mormon research and publication;
Establishing a gathering place (the Widtsoe Scholars House) where faculty and students can exchange ideas, critique works, and present papers and articles for review and discussion;
Utilizing the latest technological tools and Web-based initiatives to disseminate unique and valuable Mormon scholarship to the worldwide academic and religious communities;
Organizing seminars, symposia and conferences that bring together global faith leaders to explore commonalities in values and traditions;
Providing opportunities and experiences for students and young adults in the Southern California area to more fully appreciate the importance of faith in their lives and in society;
Endowing the permanent Chair in Mormon Studies at USC; and,
Making available funds for graduate scholarships and grants to attract the best next generation of scholars.
The Chair and the associated Mormon Studies program will be integral parts of an exciting new Ph.D. program in comparative religion at USC. The Foundation will provide support and resources to the Chair and the Mormon Studies program, with the twin goals of mentoring the next generation of exceptional scholars and strengthening and increasing positive exposure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its history, doctrine, theology, and programs in a collaborative academic setting. The independent Foundation will bring together a robust and unique set of scholarly projects, world-class visiting professors, and technological, academic and financial resources to enhance research and study of the Church, its members, its scriptures and their impact on religious thought.