Major curriculum changes to affect BYU religion requirements

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Changes in the Religious Education curriculum will affect graduation requirements. Image courtesy of LDS .org
Changes in the LDS Church’s religious education curriculum will affect BYU graduation requirements. (LDS.org)

A new curriculum for the Church Educational System will take effect in fall of 2015, affecting requirements for Church schools, institute and seminary programs.

BYU graduation requirements will change to reflect the new curriculum.

Last week, a letter was written to religious education faculty outlining the new curriculum proposal and approval process. A BYU history professor, William J. Hamblin, posted the letter on Patheos. The letter explained how the change will affect religious requirements at BYU.

Students will still be required to take 14 credits of religion, but the scripture courses currently required will be offered as electives. The new core requirements for all Church Educational System courses (including institute and seminary) will become the following:

  • Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel
    • Students will use all standard works to study the Savior and His roles in the plan of salvation.
  • Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon
    • Students will study the teachings and doctrine of the Book of Mormon, focusing on the Savior’s ministry.
  • Foundations of the Restoration
    • Students will learn about key revelations, doctrine, people and events of the Restoration.
  • The Eternal Family
    • Students will study the family’s central role in the plan of salvation using scriptures and the words of modern prophets.

These four cornerstone courses aim to better expose students to essential gospel doctrine and significant events in Church history. Each course has been assigned a 200-level number to avoid the impression that they should be taken in a specific order or that some are only “upper-level” courses.

The CES Task Committee (comprised of religious education administrators from BYU, BYU—Idaho, BYU—Hawaii and Seminaries and Institutes) discussed pros and cons of the cornerstone proposal with CES Commissioner Elder Paul Johnson. A majority of the religious education faculty voted in favor of the proposal with institutional options.

The administrative council unanimously supported the proposal and brought it before the board of trustees. The letter written to BYU faculty explained the board’s reaction to the proposal.

“The Board ‘enthusiastically endorsed’ the proposal of the four cornerstone courses. Many of the Board expressed their sentiment that this was an inspired proposal whose time had come and that it would greatly bless the students in the Church Educational System.”

The letter also said the board feels institutional options should be “limited and transitional” in order to “avoid various CES entities implementing dramatically different requirements and/or options to ‘get around’ the cornerstone courses.”

Though some are not enthusiastic about the changes, faculty was encouraged to trust the board’s inspirational leadership and participate in the development of the new courses.

Over the next several months, faculty will work to build basic outcomes and content essentials for each course.

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