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For nearly 50 years, as LDS history, social stances, programs and institutional changes have been debated, demeaned and dissected, one independent Mormon publication has provided steady, thoughtful commentary and analysis.

Founded in 1966 at Stanford University, with the inimitable Eugene England as it first editor, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought has been at the forefront of LDS scholarship, producing groundbreaking articles on urgent, pressing topics.

This month, Dialogue's board of directors announced the selection of the journal's 11th editor, Boyd Jay Petersen.

Petersen has taught courses in English and religious and Mormon studies at Utah Valley University since 1995. He also organized separate conferences on the Utah-based faith and Islam, Buddhism, the Internet and the environment, among other topics. He currently serves as the book review editor for the Journal of Mormon History and his most recent book is "Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Politics and Family."

Commenting on his selection, Petersen said in a release: "Dialogue has demonstrated that spirit and intellect are not two separate parts of the human soul that must be shielded from each other. Rather, deep conversation between the two is the only way for each to be fully expressed. Intelligence broadens faith and faith broadens intelligence."

His goal, Petersen said, is "to continue the strong tradition of editorship that has allowed Dialogue to play that role for thousands of readers, while serving as a venue for Mormonism to engage with the world's great ideas and debates."

The UVU scholar will succeed Boston-based Kristine Haglund, whose term as editor ends Dec. 31.

"I'm absolutely delighted that Boyd will be taking the reins," Haglund wrote Thursday in an email. "He is so smart — a fine scholar, a wonderful writer, and a skillful diplomat, all skills that will serve him well. But most of all, he brings a gloriously huge heart; his warmth and generosity and openness to ideas and to people embody all of the best things Dialogue is and hopes to be."

Morris Thurston, head of the selection committee, added: "While there were many outstanding applicants for the position of editor, we are absolutely thrilled that the process has produced a scholar of Boyd Petersen's caliber."

The board believes Petersen is the right editor, Thurston said, "to lead Dialogue into its second 50 years."

Peggy Fletcher Stack