My name is Fred Axelgard.
Greetings from the Wasatch Front! I joined the Wheatley Institution at BYU 4 years ago, after about 35 years doing international affairs in Washington DC, mostly Middle East affairs. I lived in Iran, Greece, Japan and Taiwan as a child – my father was a dairy businessman. I served a mission in both Switzerland and Lebanon in the early 70’s. I’m an internationalist at heart, deeply so, and this informs pretty much everything I do. My degrees are in political science and international relations (PhD, Fletcher School at Tufts University). I spent 5 years in the 90’s as a negotiator in Arab-Israeli peace issues, and lived in Saudi Arabia for 4 years after that. My wife and I have 5 children and 13 grandchildren, 7 of whom are in Germany or India.
Since coming to BYU I have dived deeply into Mormon studies. I organized a study group on ‘towards an LDS ethic of peacebuilding, which involved international LDS scholars and some nonLDS friends/scholars. I am interested in setting up another study on LDS history/theology/policy towards refugees. So I guess I would say my general focus is on the theology of LDS engagement with the world and what that means for building ‘Zion’. My perception is that there is a paucity of LDS thinking/writing/research on the LDS ethics pertaining to most social issues. This may be a blessing in disguise, because it means that we have a chance from the get-go to infect such studies with a global, beyond-US-only/US-first perspective.