No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education A Talk by Doug and Rhonda Jacobsen

January 31, 2014

The free Swope Lecture will be at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20

TACOMA, Wash. – Doug and Rhonda Jacobsen, the authors of an acclaimed book about the return of religious faith as a force on college campuses, will give a free, public lecture at University of Puget Sound.

The Swope Lecture, titled “The Future of Religion in Higher Education,” will take place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, in Kilworth Memorial Chapel. The event is free, but tickets are required. The public talk will be followed by a reception and book signing. See below for ticket information.

Doug “Jake” Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, both faculty members at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, are the authors of No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (Oxford University Press, 2012). The book, based on conversations with hundreds of professors, educators, administrators, and students, explores young people’s reengagement with religion and offers ideas on how campuses might create educational value from the interest in a diverse range of faiths.

In an article in The Daily Beast, the Jacobsens explained why paying attention to this recent religious trend should be front of mind for every U.S. college and university.

“One in three Americans under the age of 30 reports being religiously unaffiliated, so it may be a surprise to learn that religion is making a comeback on American campuses,” the authors wrote. “Today’s interest in religion comes from the bottom up [and is seen by students as] a personal exploration of meaning, purpose, values, and global diversity—something that many of them would call ‘spirituality’ rather than ‘religion.’

“Religion’s return to higher education is not without costs,” the Jacobsens continued. “Paying more attention to religion means acknowledging very real differences, and disagreements can be intense. But reengaging religion has one enormous benefit: it prepares students for life in the real world, where religion is a significant factor in politics, community and international affairs, interpersonal relationships, and individual quests for meaning and purpose.”

The Jacobsens’ research explores the ways that religion has functioned in teaching, administration, and student life. It also focuses on recent approaches to religion that stress religious and cultural pluralism. Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, wrote in a review:

"No Longer Invisible is a hugely valuable book and a highly enjoyable read. Religion is a powerful force in our public square and in our students’ lives. How campuses engage this force will help determine what role faith plays in our future—a bridge of cooperation or a barrier of division, a source of inspiration, or an excuse for destruction.”

Doug Jacobsen is distinguished professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. His research focuses on the intersection of religion and higher education, and on world Christianity. With his wife, he is co-director of the Religion in the Academy project, which seeks ways that religion and spirituality can enhance learning in higher education. Jacobsen is a frequent speaker and the award-winning author of Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement (2003) and The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There (2011).

Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen is director of faculty development and professor of psychology at Messiah College. A former public school counselor, she has been the recipient of both national and campus teaching awards and has received several grants from The John Templeton Foundation to support her efforts to bring science and religion into dialogue in the classroom. She has collaborated with her husband on three books, including The American University in a Postsecular Age (2008), which won the Lilly Fellows Program Book Award for best book on religion and higher education.

The lecture is sponsored by the Swope Endowed Lectureship on Ethics, Religion, Faith, and Values. The Swope lectureship was established at Puget Sound through a gift from Maj. Ianthe Swope in honor of her mother, Jane Hammer Swope. It is intended to promote discussion, critical thinking, and ethical inquiry about matters of religion, including its role in public life and contemporary ethics.

FOR TICKETS: Order online at or call Wheelock Information Center at 253.879.6013. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Advance ordering and pickup of tickets is recommended. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

For directions and a map of the
For accessibility information please contact or 253.879.3236, or visit

Press photos of Doug and Rhonda Jacobsen can be downloaded

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