Here is what the announcement says:
The Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees for BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii and LDS Business College have approved four new courses, to be introduced in 2015 and 2016 at all Church universities and Institutes of Religion. These new courses are intended to be cornerstones of your religious education experience. They are centered in the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets, with a focus on the Savior, His doctrine, and significant events in Church history.
The announcement gives the course titles of the four new classes as:
- Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel
- Foundations of the Restoration
- The Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon
- The Eternal Family
BYU Religion Education has a page up giving short course descriptions for the beta versions of the first three courses. It’s not clear to me if these are for next semester or if they are presently being taught. Here is the blurb for Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon:
Because of the Book of Mormon’s pivotal roles both in defining LDS doctrine and highlighting contemporary challenges, understanding the nature of the Book of Mormon societies and the spiritual principles taught to them in their own context is essential to harnessing the insights the book has to offer. This course is specifically designed to explore these contexts and study in-depth key doctrine and teachings throughout the entire Book of Mormon, thereby aiding the student to more effectively use the Book of Mormon.
For Christ and the Everlasting Gospel:
Our goal in this history-making course is to explore together the relationship of the two greatest matters of eternal consequence: our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness or everlasting covenant, which is also the gospel covenant, and the messenger of the covenant, who is Jesus Christ, the one, and only one, who puts into effect all the terms and conditions of the everlasting covenant. The two, the everlasting covenant and Jesus Christ, go together inseparably (John 1:1; JST John 1;1; D&C 93:8).
And for Foundations of the Restoration:
An exploration of foundational doctrines, documents, and history of the Church, including core sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, events of early Church history, and other topics related to the Restoration.
Nothing posted yet on The Eternal Family. Personally, I’d rather get a root canal than sit through a semester-long course on this topic. I’m happy to enjoy my eternal family, I’m just not that into talking about it. For an entire semester. Under the watchful eye of a conservative BYU religion prof who, at the end of the course, is going to give you a grade reflecting how well you can mimic, in short essays and multiple choice questions, the way your great-grandparents thought about race, gender, and sexuality.
And if this course has anything to do with the scriptures, the natural text for the LDS doctrine of the family is D&C 132. Do we really want every undergraduate at BYU doing a close reading of D&C 132? If you have a student headed to one of the BYUs or who will be taking Institute next year, you should probably go read the 13-part BCC series by wvs so you can answer all the questions your kid will come home with at Christmas [Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12,, and Part 13].
All that said, the BYU Religion core has not changed in two generations and is overdue for an overhaul (to incorporate the latest in religious scholarship into the courses). The quality of any course is largely dependent on who is teaching, and the faculty doing the teaching is getting better every year. Who knows, this could turn out to be a good thing.