James F. Veninga Religion and Politics Lecture Series


This lectureship on religion and politics is named after James F. Veninga, former Dean at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, who helped establish the UW Center for Civic Engagement, Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, and the UW Colleges Religious Studies Program.  Its intent is to honor Veninga’s work in finding new and creative ways of connecting university resources to meet community needs, interests, and issues.

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Dr. Martin Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity in the University of Chicago Divinity School, was the guest speaker at the inaugural James F. Veninga Lecture on Religion and Politics held Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at the Center for Civic Engagement Theatre in Wausau.
Titled When Faiths Collide What Happens to the Common Good?, Dr. Marty’s presentation drew upon his reflections as an historian of American religion and one of America’s foremost religious scholars for six decades, addressed the challenges facing our era of global interchange, and highlighted the ever-increasing need for communication, religious tolerance and global understanding.

Established to commemorate the contributions of former UWMC Dean James F. Veninga, this lecture series was developed by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS) out of a generous grant from the B.A. and Esther Greenheck Foundation with an intent to help inform the citizenry on the relationship between religious ideas, practices, and movements, and politics and the development of public policy. As a non-partisan public program, future events in the series will continue to represent a broad spectrum of perspectives drawn from diverse disciplines (history, psychology, cultural studies, political science, journalism, sociology, etc.) and will help to create a statewide, national and global framework for, and impact on, an area often neglected by academic institutions yet of enormous interest to the public.

Next year’s (2013) guest lecturer will be Philip Jenkins, Emeritus Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of  Humanities in the Department of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University, and author of: Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses; The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity; Images of Terror: What We Can And Can't Know About Terrorism; and God’s Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe’s Religious Crisis.
For more information on the series, contact Jean at jean.greenwood@uwc.edu

Press Release


In recent decades, there has been increased scholarly and public interest in how religious beliefs, practices, and values shape societies, and the motivating factors behind these developments; therefore, this lecture series helps inform the public on the relationship between religious ideas, practices, and movements, and politics and the development of public policy.  As a non-partisan program, it will represent a broad spectrum of perspectives and will have a statewide, national and global framework and impact. The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service,  a component of the UW Colleges and UW-Extension, seeks to address these and other issues of interest to the public by linking public scholarship, civic outreach, and student service to enhance community life throughout Wisconsin.

Speaking to the scope of the series, Veninga notes, “It is an honor for me, of course, but what is important is that we will have the opportunity to learn from some great scholars who have thought deeply and written widely about the connections between religion and politics, at home and abroad. I am hoping that the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service will pull from the presentations key ideas and help circulate those ideas to citizens across the state.”

The inaugural event will feature guest speaker Martin Marty, one of the most lauded public scholars of American religion in the world, addressing the topic "When Faiths Collide: What happens to the Common Good". This event is scheduled for Oct. 17, 2012, at 7 p.m., at the UW Center for Civic Engagement Theatre on the UWMC campus. Dr. Marty is the author of “World Christianity: A Global History,” an ordained Lutheran minister, and a National Humanities Medalist and a medalist of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Martin Marty Center, named in his honor as an arm of the University of Chicago Divinity School, is testimony of his mission to advance "public religious" endeavors. For more on Dr. Marty, see: www.illuminos.com.
This lecture series project has received the endorsement of UW-Marathon County, UW-Marathon County Foundation, UW Colleges, and the B.A. and Esther Greenheck Foundation.