New speaker named for Penn State Forum event on April 29

April 27, 2010

The speaker at this week's Penn State Forum Speaker Series has changed. Because of schedule changes brought on by recent European airport closings, Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, had to cancel his engagement. The new speaker will be Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks professor of humanities in the Department of History and Religious Studies at Penn State and distinguished senior fellow of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University. Jenkins will present "The World's Religious Map in 2050" from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, in the ballroom at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Jenkins has authored numerous papers and more than 20 books on Christianity, its history, and its place in modern day society. In 2008 he wrote "The Lost History of Christianity," and his most recent book, "Jesus Wars," was released this year.

Jenkins was born in Port Talbot, Wales. He was educated at Cambridge University where he obtained a doctorate in history. He has been teaching at Penn State since 1980. When he began his career with the University, he was hired as an assistant professor of criminal justice. Despite the extensive work he has accomplished in Christianity and religion research, his other research interests include post-1970s American history and crime.

Today, Jenkins teaches a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses including Sects, Cults and New Religious Movements; America in the 1960s; American Catholic: Roman Catholicism in 20th Century America; and Beyond the Good War: Politics and Culture in 1940s America.

"I work in several quite diverse fields in both history and religious studies," Jenkins said. "Broadly, my major current interests include the study of global Christianity, past and present; of new and emerging religious movements; and of 20th century U.S. history, chiefly post-1975."

The Penn State Forum Speaker Series introduces members of the University community to some of the most notable leaders and policy makers in their respective professions.

Co-sponsored by the Penn State Bookstore and the Offices of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Senior Vice President of Finance and Business, the Penn State Forum Speaker Series is open to the general public. The luncheons, modeled after the National Press Club Speaker Series, include a presentation by an invited speaker, followed by audience questions.

This installment of the Penn State Forum Speaker Series event is sold out.

Suggestions for future speakers may be directed to Gail Hurley, Chair of the Forum Committee, at or Carol Griffin, Forum Staff Support, at

Last Updated April 29, 2010