Our take: As the public shines a light on Mormonism through a presidential race, a Broadway run and other aspects of the faith, here is an example of where the so-called “Mormon moment” is being played out in higher education.
Matthew Gowans isn't the only Mormon DePaul University has hired in its 114-year history, but he is the first ever brought on to teach students about Mormonism. The kids, Gowans says to me last month on the Chicago campus of DePaul, my alma mater, "really have no clue what Mormons fundamentally believe."
That does not, however, mean students at the largest Catholic university in America are uninterested in learning. "Toward the end of my class on environmental ethics I give students a choice of what they might what to discuss and a majority chose Mormonism on environmental ethics," Gowans says.
The newfound interest in Mormonism among students and the larger American public convinced the Religious Studies department to transition Gowans's part-time contract into a full-time one. Fr. James Halstead, the Augustinian priest who chairs the department, talked often with Gowans about his religion. The priest told him, "Bring these things up in your class."
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