Birch, Brian D.
Title: Associate Vice President - Engaged Learning
Office: BA211c
Phone: (801) 863-8361
Mail Code: 194


Brian D. Birch

Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs - Engaged Learning

Director, Religious Studies Program  


Areas of Current Administrative Responsibility
Office of Engaged Learning

Internship Services

Undergraduate & Graduate Research

Grants & Sponsored Programs

Faculty Development

Academic Service Learning

Center for Global & Intercultural Engagement

Civic Engagement

Capitol Reef Field Station

Community & Continuing Education



Brian Birch is a graduate of the University of Utah with a bachelor's and master's degree in philosophy (1990, 1992). With interests in religious diversity and comparative studies, he completed a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology program at Claremont Graduate University (1998). His dissertation was directed by the late D.Z. Phillips and is entitled "The Limits of Pluralism and the Primacy of Practice: An Epistemological Inquiry into Religious Diversity."


Areas of Academic Specialization

Philosophy of Religion


Mormon Theological Studies  



Research Interests

Theoretical foundations of religious diversity
Comparative Christian thought
Ethics education with a focus on pluralism and civic engagement
Social dimensions of religious experience

Select Courses

Philosophy of Religion
Ethics and Values
Approaches to Religious Studies
Mormon Theology and the Christian Tradition
Mormonism in American History and Thought

Religion, Politics, and Public Policy


Administrative Experience
Associate Vice-President for Academic Affairs - Engaged Learning (2010-present)
Associate Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (interim, 2008-10)
Director, Religious Studies Program (2002-present)
Department Chair, Philosophy and Humanities (2003-06)
Associate Director, Center for the Study of Ethics (1999-2006)

Civic Engagement
Member, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable

Executive Committee, EveryDay Learners (United Way of Utah County)

Executive Committee, 3Rs Project (Rights, Respect, Responsibility), Utah State Office of Education

Select Publications



What is Postmodernism? ed. with David R. Keller (Center for the Study of Ethics, 2003)
Ethics and Values: Basic Readings in Theory and Practice (Simon & Schuster, 1999), contributing editor


editor, Element: The Journal of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (2005-2010)

editor, Teaching Ethics: The Journal of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum (2000-2005)


Select Articles, Reviews, and Book Contributions

"In Defense of Methodological Pluralism: Theology, Apologetics, and the Critical Study of Mormonism" Mormon Studies Review 1:1 (2014)

“Faith Seeking Understanding: Mormon Atheology and the Question of Fideism” in Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology (Kofford Books, 2012)

"Turning the Devil Out of Doors: Mormonism and the Concept of Hell" in Hell and Its Afterlife (Ashgate Publishing Co., 2010)

"Theological Method and the Question of Truth: A Postliberal Approach to Mormon Doctrine and Practice," in Discourses in Mormon Theology: Theoretical Possibilities, ed. James M. McLachlan and Loyd Ericson (Greg Kofford Books, 2007)

"Religion and Friendly Fire: Examining Assumption in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion," with Patrick N. Horn, Philosophical Investigations 31 (July, 2007)
"The CIA Leak Investigation: A Case Study" Teaching Ethics, 6:1 (Fall, 2005)

"Mormonism and War" Encyclopedia of Religion and War (Routledge, 2003)

Pending Publication Projects

Mormonism and Christian Thought
(under contract with Oxford University Press)
Perspectives on Mormon Theology (series editor, under contract with Kofford Books)


“A Peculiar People: Mormonism at the Margins of Christian Theology,” Conference on Mormonism and Exoticism, Royal Academy of Belgium, Brussels, May, 2013

“What Power Shall Stay the Heavens: Continuing Revelation and Doctrinal Authority Among the Latter-day Saints,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Baltimore, MD, November, 2013

“Institutionalizing Engaged Learning” Utah Campus Compact Faculty Retreat, February 9, 2013

“Dogma and Democracy: Religious Authority and Political Pluralism in the Twenty-First Century” UVU Conference by the Faculty, January, 2013

”The Mormon Moment,” BYU Humanities Center Faculty Colloquium, November, 2012

“The Good and the True: Religious Diversity and Theological Integrity," Foundation For Interreligious Diplomacy Conference, University of Southern California, June, 2010.

“In Defense of Methodological Anarchy” CMSSA Annual Conference, What is Mormon Studies? Transdisciplinary Inquiries into an Emerging Field, Claremont Graduate University, April, 2010
“Are Mormons Pelagians?” 2010 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Utah Valley University, April, 2010.
“The Awkwardness of Mormonism and its Place in Religious Studies,” Religious Studies Colloquium, University of Utah, September, 2009.
“Treasure Them Up: Providence, Pluralism, and the Plan of Salvation,” 2009 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, May, 2009.

“The Contested Concept of Christian Identity,” Philosophy Colloquium, Utah Valley University, November, 2008.
“Revelation and Doctrinal Authority,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Chicago, Ill, October, 2008.

“On Being Christian: Doing Justice to the Tradition” 2008 Annual Meeting European Mormon Studies Association, Turku, Finland, August, 2008.

"Rethinking Atheology” 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, University of Utah, April, 2008.

"Mormon Atheology and Its Implications for Teaching Mormon Studies," Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Mormon Studies Consultation, San Diego, CA, November, 2007.

"Mormonism and War," Interfaith Conference on War and Peace, Salt Lake City, Utah, October, 2007.

"The Ethics of Inclusion in a Homogenous Culture," Presidential Colloquium, Clemson University, April, 2007

"A Confessional Approach to Religious Diversity: Implications for Latter-day Saint Self-Understanding," Annual Meeting of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Brigham Young University, March, 2007.

"D.Z. Phillips and His Critics: Remarks on Religion and Friendly Fire," Annual Meeting of the Society for Philosophy of Religion, Hilton Head, SC, February, 2007.

"An Analysis of Latter-day Saint Conceptions of Damnation," Hell and Its Afterlife: An International and Interdisciplinary Conference, University of Utah, October, 2006.


Professional Affiliations

American Academy of Religion (Mormon Studies Consultation)

Foundation for Religious Diplomacy (Senior Research Fellow)

Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (Executive Committee)

Links to Related Organizations and Projects

UVU Religious Studies Program
Foundation for Religious Diplomacy
American Academy of Religion
Utah 3Rs Project
Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology
Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable


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