BYU to fold its Women's Research Institute

Some faculty members at Brigham Young University are mourning the apparent demise of the school's Women's Research Institute, an interdisciplinary center that has sponsored research across the academic spectrum for three decades.

Administration officials announced the move last week, calling it a reorganization that "will result in significantly expanded resources and creative activities pertaining to women," according to BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.

But in an Internet posting, unnamed WRI-affiliated faculty noted that the reorganization removes an institution with a record of coordinating research across disciplines, from ancient scripture to health science. The center, with 83 affiliated faculty from nearly every department on campus, has published dozens of papers, notably in the areas of peace and violence.

"This is really significant research that has been recognized at the highest levels in social science and it's disappearing as a university priority. It's utterly lamentable because there's still a need for that," said political science professor Valerie Hudson in an interview.

Under WRI sponsorship, Hudson amassed a qualitative global database on women's health. Scholars tap BYU's WomanStats Project to gauge the status of women around the world. Hudson's own work demonstrates a compelling link between a society's ability to safeguard women's interests and its relative peacefulness.

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