Philip Jenkins

Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies

Pennsylvania State University

Click here for my e-mail address, and other contact information.

If you are interested in Penn State's program in Religious Studies, you can find details about our faculty and the full range of courses  that we teach. However, one of our strengths is that we work closely with other departments and programs in areas such as History, Jewish Studies, and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS).  For information about our combined graduate program in History and Religious Studies,  click here.

We have a number of specialized fields within the department, which bring together some outstanding faculty. One important area of growth has been the study of Politics and Modern Society, chiefly during the twentieth century. Also notable is our emphasis on the Historical Study of Religion.


I currently have three main (and quite distinct) areas of interest. These are:

1. Global Christianity and World Christianity
The new churches of Africa, Asia and Latin America, how they have developed, and how they are shaping the future of Christianity; and further, how these same issues play out among immigrant communities within North America. These issues are discussed in my 2002 book The Next Christendom, and also in work I am currently undertaking on the impact of the Bible on contemporary African and Asian churches.

2. America in the 1970s and 1980s: Politics, Culture and Society
VERY modern U.S. history, roughly 1976-1995, constitutes a major emerging field. In early 2006, I will be publishing a book on the 1975-1986 period, Decade of Nightmares: The End of the 1960s and The Making of Eighties America (New York: Oxford University Press). A follow-up study will explore the late 1980s/early 1990s, ranging broadly across political, social and cultural themes. I am very interested in working with students on topics growing out of these studies.

3. Alternative Religions within North America
New religious movements, “cults” and cult scares, esoteric and metaphysical movements, especially in a historical context. For my interests in this area, see my books Mystics and Messiahs (2000) and Dream Catchers (2004). This is a proposal for one such project which I have been developing, about occult and fringe movements in the Philadelphia area in the early twentieth century.