PROVO — A 90-year tradition resurfaces this week when the annual Campus Education Week is conducted on the Brigham Young University campus.
Launched in 1922 as "Leadership Week" with a strict orientation toward training lay leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Campus Education Week has evolved through the years into five days of classes, workshops and experiences in a wide variety of disciplines intended to enhance life-long learning.
"Our objective is to bless the lives of those who are attending," said Bruce Payne, administrator of the annual event. "Every year we ask our attendees for evaluations of the program, and every year we get comments from individuals who indicate that a particular class or experience changed their life.
"I guess that's what we're doing," Payne continued. "We're enhancing — and sometimes changing — people's lives."
The 2012 Campus Education Week program runs Monday through Friday this week, with just under 1,100 classes available to the more than 21,000 conference registrants (which, according to Payne, is 6-7 percent more than the number that pre-registered for classes last year). Classes — including 90 classes aimed specifically at teenagers age 14 and older — will be taught by 230 different presenters, including 50 first-time Education Week presenters.
Among the presenters this year will be all three members of the LDS Church's General Sunday School Presidency —Russell T. Osguthorpe, David M. McConkie and Matthew O. Richardson — who will be teaching a class on "Improving Gospel Learning and Teaching."
In addition to the classes, there will also be a devotional featuring Elder Tad R. Callister of the LDS Church's Presidency of the Seventy Tuesday at 11:10 a.m. in the Marriott Center, which is open to the general public. There will also be evening performances featuring Vocal Point, BYU's a cappella ensemble that was featured recently on NBC's "The Sing Off"; "City of Joseph," a musical based on the LDS Church's establishment of Nauvoo, Ill.; and One Clear Voice, a quartet featuring Tammy Simister Robinson, Johanne Frechette Perry, Tanya Barkdull and LaRene Tinney.
Advance registration for Campus Education Week is not required, although there is a fee for participation. "People can walk in and register any time they want to attend a class," Payne said. "We don't limit enrollment, and you don't register for a specific class. As far as the classes are concerned, seats are available on a first come, first served basis."
Pulling all of this together takes a full year for Payne and his relatively small staff. Finding and clearing new presenters is especially time consuming, he said.
"We have an application process for our presenters that requires some time," he said, indicating that there are typically 150 or so applications that have to go through the review process each year. While most of the Education Week presenters are either BYU faculty, BYU administration or seminary and institute teachers from the LDS Church Educational System, there are also presentations from other professionals who are experts in their respective fields.
"We ask them to provide a video of their presentation, and we look at that video," Payne said. "We look at their experience in teaching the subject, and we examine their outlines and handout materials. We want to make sure they are a good fit with what we're trying to do here."
And what they are trying to do, he said, is to teach, uplift and inspire from within the context of LDS orthodoxy.
"Education Week is not the venue to address controversial subjects," Payne said, adding "there are other venues for that."
"We look at the things the leaders of the church are addressing in general conference," he continued. "Our models are the titles you'd see on a conference talk."
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