News and Events
Pepperdine Hosts Visiting Distinguished Scholars Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen
Rhonda and Douglas "Jake" Jacobsen, both professors at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, are completing a semester-long appointment as distinguished visiting scholars at Pepperdine University. As codirectors of the Religion in the Academy Project, a major research initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment, Rhonda and Jake are using the time to complete their third jointly written book entitled, The New Soul of the American University.
"We’re at Pepperdine in order to bring our thinking together after doing our research and discovery project over two years and we’re starting to write the book that we hope will be finishing about a year from now," says Rhonda, a professor of psychology and director of faculty development at Messiah College.
"Being visiting distinguished scholars here at Pepperdine is a great opportunity to do nothing but think and write," says Jake, who is the Distinguished Professor of Church History and Theology at Messiah College. With wide-ranging interests encompassing American and global religiosity, Jake is 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 (forthcoming 2010).
Together, Jake and Rhonda have co-authored Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (2004) and The American University in a Postsecular Age (2008). Their new book, The New Soul of the American University, is part of the Religion in the Academy project, the goal of which is to advance higher education’s engagement with religion by developing a new and comprehensive framework for understanding its relationship to college and university learning.
The first two years of the project (2008-2009) were devoted to research, including visits to dozens of colleges and universities and to conversations with many different American leaders in higher education.
"We’ve talked to people from community colleges, we’ve spent time at Harvard and MIT, and everything in between so it really is about higher education and what are the questions that the current generation of students are asking [about religious diversity]," Jake says.
"Hosting the Jacobsens is a terrific opportunity for Pepperdine to participate in the broader conversation about how faith and religious values inform the practice of higher education," says Michael Williams, interim director of the Center for Faith and Learning at Pepperdine University. "Jake and Rhonda are experts at helping Christian scholars—be they theologians, philosophers, or financiers—reflect on how their religious values shape their teaching and research. Their partnership with Pepperdine will shape the future of how we think about these important issues."
The Center for Faith and Learning will be hosting several book discussions and speaking engagements led by the Jacobsens. Learn more at www.pepperdine.edu/centerforfaithandlearning.