Do I have to be Mormon to apply for these awards?
This depends. All awards in our Belief database have requisite membership requirements. However, nearly all of the Research database awards are meant to fund research related to Mormon studies. If this is your area of interest, you should be able to secure funding as a non-member.
What is the difference between the Belief Database and the Research Database?
The Belief Database is mainly comprised of awards that require membership in the LDS church. These awards are not necessarily for specific research projects and are mainly for undergraduate work.
The Research Database, in constrast, are awards and fellowships to help researchers of Mormon Studies topics pursue inquiry related to their faith (or interest in the case of non-members). This database will mainly serve a graduate/postgraduate audience, but may help some undergraduates with unique research interests.
What counts as Mormon Studies Research?
A common misconception is that Mormon Studies is another way of saying "pioneer heritage" or research about early LDS history. This is certainly not the case (though research into these very important historical topics would certainly qualify). Here are just some examples of areas of study that would fit under the umbrella of Mormon Studies:
Women's Studies - A recent poll that looked at renaming women's auxiliaries in the church
Nutrition - A scientific study as to how various parts of the Word of Wisdom work together (topic available)
Art History - Research the early church art missions
Anthropology - A study of 'baptism for the dead' ordinances performed by early Christians
Engineering - Ways of improving earthquake resistance in temple buildings
English - A study of non-cannonised texts quoted in general conference talks (topic available)
Law - Joseph Smith's last legal cases
German - The role of Mormons in Nazi Germany
Geological Science - A study of the unique geology of the sites where temples have been build over natural water springs (topic available)
Computer Science - Create a new facial recognition application that helps identify historic family photos (topic available-- it would be amazing if someone took this one on)
These are but a few in the endless list of topics that would qualify. These topics do not have to be solely relevant to a Mormon audience either. For example, the aforementioned earthquake, nutrition, and computer science research both have far-reaching applications beyond a LDS audience.
It seems like most of the awards are institutionally based. What are my options if I don't attend those institutions?
This is an excellent question, and one we hope to be able to rectify soon. Most funding awards are based at BYU and a small handful of other institutions that have Mormon Studies programs. For those outside these institutions, particularly those outside the US, this can be very frustrating.
We hope that by having a place where researchers and funders can meet, that we may be able to encourage more LDS family foundations and charitable trusts (with members on their board), to consider funding individual research that builds upon LDS belief. Ultimately we hope to enlarge research relevant to the church, while still allowing researchers to subsist.
We are actively working with funding bodies to try to secure additional scholarships and grants for researchers. If you represent a funding body or are interesting in creating an award for LDS research, please let us know!
What you are doing is fantastic, I'd like to help!
First of all, thank you! We love your enthusiasm and really appreciate your time. We always appreciate donations to the site to keep it running, but if all you have is time, we can use that too. Check out our Volunteer section so learn how you can help.