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Speaker Series

Speaker Series

Each year, the Communication Institute holds a series of 4-6 lectures offered by faculty from across our campus, the United States, and internationally. Speakers discuss how their research-in-progress addresses an issue of public concern at the intersections of communication and public policy. Follow the links below to review the collection of speakers that the Communication Institute has hosted.


Upcoming Speakers:

Are more people leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? If so, why?

Date: Thursday, March 14th | Time: 3:00 - 4:30 PM | Location: Edna Anderson-Taylor Communication Institute, LNCO 2910

Since the early 1990s, the “Nones”—people with no religious affiliation—have grown from a single-digit minority to roughly a third of the U.S. population. For many years, Latter-day Saints resisted the national trends toward secularization, their numbers bolstered by three reliable factors: religious conversions, deep religious commitment, and large families. But the last decade has seen all three of those pillars weakening, judging from multiple national studies as well as a fresh wave of data from the Next Mormons Survey, which was fielded in 2016 and again in 2022–23. Today, Latter-day Saints remain more religious than most other Americans, but less committed to church activity than they used to be. What’s going on? This lecture will give an overview of current research about Mormons’ religious affiliation and commitment, and place that into the context of the overall secularization that’s happening throughout the United States. It will also discuss why some people leave the LDS Church and the language they use to describe that decision and their post-Mormon lives.

Jana smiling in a pink blasier and hugging her Black dog against a grassy background.


Jana Riess is the author of numerous books, including The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church, published by Oxford University Press in 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University, writes a weekly column for Religion News Service, and has 25 years of experience as an editor in the publishing industry. With political scientist Benjamin Knoll, she is currently working on a book about people who leave the LDS Church.

Social Media:

Twitter/X: @janariess


RNS column:

Join us for two events hosted by Niko Pfund, the Academic Publisher and President of Oxford University Press, USA.

How to Get Published: A Behind-the-Scenes Perspective on How Editors and Publishers Think and How They Decide What to Publish

Date: Wednesday, March 13th | Time: 2:00 - 4:00 PM | Location: LNCO Lounge
This talk is will focus on the exact traits presses are looking for (original argument, counterintuitive hook, primary research, etc.), sales channels, markets and readership, the relationship between author and editor, the peer review process, how to approach a press, what presses to approach, the impact of your book (e.g., print sales v. online usage), and how books “break” out. Ample time for Q&A to follow.

Artificial Intelligence, Academia, and Academic Publishing: An Interim View

Date: Thursday, March 14th | Time: 2:00 - 3:00 PM | Location: LNCO Lounge
It is virtually impossible to keep up with artificial intelligence development, or even the media coverage thereof. This talk will be an informal attempt at an overview of the current state of play, and what the short-term future might look like in the academic arena, by someone who is trying very hard to keep up with the pace of change. The Q&A will offer an opportunity to compare opinions in an open-ended discussion.
Headshot of Niko smiling with a collar shirt and beige backgroundNiko Pfund is the Academic Publisher and President of Oxford University Press, USA. He began his career at Oxford in 1987 as an editorial assistant before moving to New York University Press in 1990, where he was an editor and then editor in chief before becoming director in 1996. He returned to Oxford in 2000 in the role of publisher and is responsible for the Press’s scholarly research and reference publishing across the humanities, social sciences, science, law, and medicine. A past President of the Association of University Presses, he serves on a number of boards, including those of the Institute for Global Affairs and the literary magazine The Common.

Seating is limited. Light refreshments. Please call 801-587-7531 with accommodation requests.

Past Speakers:


Last Updated: 2/23/24