No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education

No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education
Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen and Douglas Jacobsen
Oxford University Press 2012

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.


  • Draws on interviews with professors, administrators, and students from more than 50 American campuses
  • Shows that discussing religion allows a much broader and more nuanced college education


“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. Religion is already an active agent in higher education, in the lives of teachers and students, as well as in the world that higher education is designed to explain and serve. This book informs, challenges and inspires its readers as it weakens the facile distinctions between religious and secular thought.”–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. By mapping key features of the contemporary discourse about religion and spirituality in higher education onto sturdy analytical categories from the academic study of religion, No Longer Invisible significantly advances an important conversation. If you are looking to understand religion on your campus-or wondering why you should bother to-read this book.”–Patricia O’Connell Killen, Ph.D., Academic Vice President and Professor of Religious Studies, Gonzaga University

“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. This book is a great resource for anyone who wants to work proactively to incorporate religion into higher education.” –Dr. Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core

About the Author(s)

Douglas “Jake” Jacobsen (Ph.D., University of Chicago), Professor of Religion, and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen (Ed.D., Temple University), Professor of Psychology, jointly direct the Religion in the Academy Project. Their previous publications include Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (OUP, 2004) and the award-winning edited volume The American University in a Postsecular Age (OUP, 2008).