The Religion in the Academy (RITA) project focuses on the many ways that religion, spirituality, and big questions of human meaning and purpose interact with university education.


The RITA project is co-directed by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen.


Douglas (Jake) Jacobsen (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is a historian and theologian with wide-ranging interests in American religion and world Christianity. Jake is the award-winning author of Thinking in the Spirit: Theologies of the Early Pentecostal Movement (2003) and of The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There (2011).


Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen (Ed.D., Temple University) is a psychologist and university administrator. A former public school counselor, Rhonda has been the recipient of national and campus teaching awards and has obtained several grants from the John Templeton Foundation to support her efforts to bring science and religion into dialogue in the classroom.


Jake and Rhonda have collaborated together on three books published by Oxford University Press: Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (2004); The American University in a Postsecular Age (2008), winner of the Lilly Fellows Book Award; and No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (2012), winner of an American Education Studies Association Critics' Choice Book Award. They are currently researching the connections between religion and university education globally.


Recent speaking engagements include:


Belmont University | Brown University | Calvin College | Dominican University | Emory University | Hartwick College | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) | Oberlin College | St. Olaf College | Santa Clara University | Seattle University | Syracuse University | University of Puget Sound | University of Rochester | Vanderbilt University


Contact Information




Telephone: 717-796-1800 ext. 3000



No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education American Education Studies Association (AESA) Critics' Choice Book Award Winner


Drawing on conversations with hundreds of professors, co-curricular educators, administrators, and students from institutions spanning the entire spectrum of American colleges and universities, the Jacobsens illustrate how religion is constructively intertwined with the work of higher education in the twenty-first century. No Longer Invisible documents how, after decades when religion was marginalized, colleges and universities are re-engaging matters of faith--an educational development that is both positive and necessary. Religion in contemporary American life is now incredibly complex, with religious pluralism on the rise and the categories of "religious" and "secular" often blending together in a dizzying array of lifestyles and beliefs. Using the categories of historic religion, public religion, and personal religion, No Longer Invisible offers a new framework for understanding this emerging religious terrain, a framework that can help colleges and universities--and the students who attend them--interact with religion more effectively. The stakes are high: Faced with escalating pressures to focus solely on job training, American higher education may find that paying more careful and nuanced attention to religion is a prerequisite for preserving American higher education's longstanding commitment to personal, social, and civic learning.


"This volume is a wise, sophisticated, eminently readable, and profoundly important contribution to the literature of higher education in America. The Jacobsens eloquently and persuasively shatter the wall that has too often precluded the serious examination of how intimately religion and higher education interact."

--Lee S. Shulman, President Emeritus, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching


"An intelligent introduction to perhaps the most confused and contested issue on university campuses today -- religion."

--Patricia O'Connell Killen, Academic Vice President, Gonzaga University


"No Longer Invisible is a hugely valuable book and a highly enjoyable read."

--Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core


"This book won me over with its clear and comprehensive consideration of religion in today's very secular college life."

--AESA award reviewer comment



Reviews of

No Longer Invisible


"This book provides convenient, one-stop shopping for sociologists interested in gaining a quick, thorough, and thought-provoking overview of religion in higher education."

Damon Mayrl, Sociology of Religion (February 2014)


"This powerful and well-explained analytical framework . . . is sophisticated and well-informed. Far from being a narrow, denominationally focused account of a limited set of Christian traditions in a limited variety of campus engagements, theirs is a serious, wide-ranging contribution to religion and the university debates."

Peter Hampson, Theology (January/February 2014)


"A highly nuanced, superb study of exceptional lucidity and concision . . . The book could provide an excellent focus for a seminar on the meaning and purpose of university education."

Ursula King, Journal of Beliefs and Values: Studies in Religion and Education (November 2013)


"Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen do not expect all their readers to be convinced . . . but they have laid out a playing field in which the serious games of 'religion' and 'university' intersect or are fought."

Martin E. Marty, Journal of the American Academy of Religion (September 2013)


"[The Jacobsens'] model allows even public colleges and universities to understand how religious questions can impact teaching and scholarship."

Todd W. Ferguson, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (September 2013)


"The authors make a convincing argument that religion is both educationally unavoidable and pedagogically transformative . . . educating the whole student means being willing to take all perspectives -- even religious perspectives -- seriously, from classrooms to student affairs to administrative offices."

Joanne Maguire Robinson, Teaching Theology and Religion (July 2013)


"In their recent publication, No Longer Invisible, Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen discuss how religion has increasingly become more intertwined with the work higher education as well as how the 'religious' and 'secular' are blending together."

Editor, The Immanent Frame, SSRC (July 2013)


"The authors provide a much-needed source for understanding how religion connects with higher learning and how to capitalize on, rather than ignore, such connections . . . this book is a must read for anyone who cares about if and how religion should influence the contemporary goals of higher education."

Rishi Sriram, Religious Studies Review (June 2013)


"The volume is a helpful guide for educators wishing to understand the evolution of religion in higher education, and challenges readers to understand the multifaceted dimensions of religion in individual, community, and university life."

Julie J. Park, Journal of College and Character (February 2013)


"All education is value laden. Affirming connections between learning and values, an enterprise the authors insist is basically a religious one, will ultimately enrich the educational experience."

Charles H. Lippy, Choice (January 2013)



Table of Contents for

No Longer Invisible


Introduction: Religion within Higher Education


Part I: Context

1 Religion's "Return"

2 The History of Religion in American Higher Education

3 Trail Markers in a Time of Transition

4 A Framework for Better Questions


Part II: Content

5 Religious Literacy: What should an educated person know about the world's religions?

6 Interfaith Etiquette: What are appropriate ways to interact with those of other faiths?

7 Framing Knowledge: What assumptions and rationalities -- secular or religious -- shape the way we think?

8 Civic Engagement: What values and practices -- religious or secular -- shape civic engagement?

9 Convictions: In what ways are personal convictions related to the teaching and learning process?

10 Character and Vocation: How might colleges and universities point students toward lives of meaning and purpose?


Conclusion: Religion and the Future of Higher Education




Other RITA Project Books



The American University in a Postsecular Age


2009 Lilly Fellows Book Award Winner


For much of the twentieth century, it was assumed that higher education was and ought to be a secular enterprise, but that approach no longer suffices. The culture has shifted, and contemporary college and university students are increasingly bringing religious and spiritual questions to campus. In response, college and university leaders are exploring anew the relationship between religion and higher education.

The American University in a Postsecular Age grapples with key questions:

        How religious or irreligious are faculty and students today?

        What level of religious literacy should be expected from students?

        Can religion be allowed into the classroom without being disruptive?

        Should colleges and universities help students reflect on their own faith?

        Is religion antithetical to critical inquiry?

        Can religion have a positive role to play in higher education?

This is a state-of-the-art introduction to the national discussion about religion and higher education. Leading scholars and top educators express a wide spectrum of opinions that reflect the best current thinking. Introductory and concluding essays by the editors describe the postsecular character of our age and propose a comprehensive framework intended to facilitate ongoing conversation.


Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation


This book enters a lively discussion about religious faith and higher education in America that has been going on for a decade or more. During this time many scholars have joined the debate about how best to understand the role of faith in the academy at large and in the special arena of church-related Christian higher education. The notion of faith-informed scholarship has, of course, figured prominently in this conversation. But, argue Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen, the idea of Christian scholarship itself has been remarkably under-discussed. Most of the literature has assumed a definition of Christian scholarship that is Reformed and evangelical in orientation: a model associated with the phrase "the integration of faith and learning." The authors offer a new definition and analysis of Christian scholarship that respects the insights of different Christian traditions (e.g., Catholic, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal) and that applies to the arts and to professional studies as much as it does to the humanities and the natural and social sciences. The book itself is organized as a conversation. Five chapters by the Jacobsens alternate with four contributed essays that sharpen, illustrate, or complicate the material in the preceding chapters. The goal is both to map the complex terrain of Christian scholarship as it actually exists and to help foster better connections between Christian scholars of differing persuasions and between Christians and the academy as a whole.


Last updated: 16 August 2014