The Gordon and Gary Shepherd Graduate Student Paper Award


The Gordon and Gary Shepherd Graduate Student Paper Award recognizes and supports the work of graduate students who are doing significant social scientific research in Mormon Studies. It also encourages their active participation in the Mormon Social Science Association (MSSA).

A cash award shall be offered annually for the outstanding graduate student paper presented at either the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion or the MSSA’s one-day spring conference at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

An announcement advertising the award will be made bi-annually in conjunction with MSSA’s call for conference papers.

Judging Paper Submissions

The winner of the award shall be determined by the MSSA Board of Directors, consisting of the MSSA President, President Elect, Past President, Secretary/Treasurer, Communications Director, and Directors-at-Large.

The MSSA President will forward all graduate student paper submissions to members of the Board and will ask for their votes within six weeks of the time they are forwarded.

The Board is not obligated to designate a winning paper every year. The award shall only be made in those years when there is a meritorious paper, as determined by a majority vote of the Board. The Board shall also determine the amount of prize money to be awarded to the winner.

In those years when a paper is selected for the award, it will be announced at the spring UVU conference and posted on the MSSA website and other social media outlets.

Eligibility and Submission Requirements

To be eligible for the award, individuals must be enrolled as graduate students in a master’s or doctoral program at a certified public or private college or university.

Student papers must address a topic relevant to the scholarly understanding of Mormon life, including either the social, cultural, or religious dimensions of Mormonism.

A written copy of the paper must be submitted to the MSSA President each year no later than December 1 and be consistent with the paper format advertised for designated conferences on the MSSA website and other social media outlets.


2021 – C. William Campbell: “There Are Never Too Many Miles to Travel”: A Case for LDS Temple Attendance as Pilgrimage

2019 – Philippa Meek: “The Rise of Secularisation, the Growing Permissiveness of Non-Traditional Marriage Forms, and Implications for Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamists”