By AMY O’KELLY
A BYU professor will present the first lecture in the Last Lecture series sponsored by the School of Social Work tonight at 7 in 214 CTB.
The Last Lecture is a final address given by a professor who is retiring from the School of Social Work. It represents the culmination of that professor’s career, said Greg Pettys, chair of the Last Lecture series and assistant professor in the School of Social Work.
Reed H. Blake, retiring professor of sociology and social work, will speak to faculty and students on an aspect of his research in the sociology of the interior mountains.
“I will look at the attitudes, beliefs and opinions of those who live in this social area, the Mountain West,” Blake said.
The Mountain West is a definable social area with its own culture. The thoughtways and folkways of this region, which runs from Arizona through Utah to Idaho, are somewhat distinct from those of the other nearby regions, such as the Pacific Northwest or the Southwest, Blake said in a news release from the School of Social Work.
According to the news release, Blake said it is in the Trail, the Call and the Ditch that much of the undergirding for the social cohesion and sentiment can be found among the people in this region.
The Trail: three major trails led people into the interior mountains. The Call: 497 communities were settled after leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ called people in General Conference to settle parts of Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. This call bound people to the land because they believed it was where the Lord wanted them to be.
The Ditch: every community needed a ditch to supply water for irrigation and domestic use. Since the ditch made life possible, the community effort to build and maintain it bound them together, Blake said.
“I believe I can trace much of what we are today to the these three symbols. We were essentially one people in our approach to our lifestyles. Whether Mormon or not, people’s approach to work, religion and education had religious overtones,” Blake said.
Blake calls this lecture of choice: “The Mystical Symbols of the Mountain West: the Trail, the Call, and the Ditch.” The Last Lecture is a nice way to get psychological closure on 30 years at the university, Blake said.
“He has had a very rich career at BYU. I think the lecture will be very informative and enriching,” Pettys said.