Highlights from BYU Colleges: BYU researchers discover locations of sacred Mayan groves, Bonnie L. Oscarson speaks on learning through literature


College of Life Sciences

BYU professors and graduate students work with United States and Mexico archaeologists to identify the sacred groves of cacao trees from the ancient Mayan civilization. (BYU College of Life Sciences)

A group of BYU researchers formed by an emeritus professor and graduate students worked with archaeologists from the United States and Mexico, in order to identify locations for sacred Mayan cacao tree groves.

The findings of this study show that cacao groves played an important role in ancient Mayan rituals and trade routes, impacting the Mesoamerican economy.

“Now we have these links between religious structures and the religious crops grown in these sinkholes,” said BYU emeritus professor Richard Terry. “This new understanding creates a rich historical narrative of a highly charged Maya landscape with economic, political and spiritual value.”

College of Family, Home and Social Sciences

A new BYU study suggests that the main character from Disney’s latest movie “Encanto” would have strong family ties even if she lived in the United States.

The study explored how much time Latino youth in the United States spent with family members and compared the results to those of teenagers in other ethnic groups.

“One core Latin American cultural value is familismo; the idea that dedication and loyalty to family should be a top priority for each family member. We see that play out in the movie and in our research,” family life professor Jocelyn Wikle said.

“Latino teens spend more time each day with parents and siblings than teens from other racial or ethnic groups spend with their family members. Just like Mirabel, we find that family is a major part of life for Latino girls in the United States,” she said.

College of Humanities

Former Young Women General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bonnie L. Oscarson, talks about the power of literature in the learning process. (BYU College of Humanities)

Former Young Women General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bonnie L. Oscarson, gave the 2021 Honored Alumni Lecture for the BYU College of Humanities about learning through literature.

Oscarson talked about the impact literature had in her life from her childhood in Bountiful, Utah, to her time as an English student at Brigham Young University.

Oscarson explained that studying literature prepared her in the Church callings she later received.

“Reading and literature have always been a joy and an escape and have filled my life with thoughts and experiences I could have had in no other way. Literature has made my life richer and more meaningful,” Oscarson said.

“My opportunity to learn from scholars and teachers in the College of Humanities has helped me be more compassionate, have more empathy, more awareness of the world. Those learning experiences have changed me in ways I cannot begin to name,” she said.

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