Gates Lectures

Gates Lectures were established in 1913 by Grinnell faculty, alumni, and friends in memory of the College’s second president, George A. Gates, who served from 1887–1900. The goal of the lectures is “to bring to the campus the very best of modern thought.”

Upcoming Lecture


Judith Weisenfeld, Princeton University, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion and associated faculty in the Department of African American Studies and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies

“Apostles of Race: Religion and Racial Identity in Early 20th Century”

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022
HSSC, Room N3118 (virtual access will also be provided)

Past Lecturers


Elliot Ratzman, chair in Jewish studies at Earlham College. He teaches courses on race, social justice, ethics, and religion. He is finishing his first book Zipporahs Knife: A Jewish Reckoning with Race. Ratzman is also active in movements for Middle East peace, social and economic justice, and non-violent resistance.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022


Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, associate professor at the University of Vermont, associate director UVM Humanities Center.
Professor Morgenstein Fuerst specializes in Islamic studies. Her areas of expertise include Islam, religions of South Asia, and theories and histories of religion. 
Thursday, April 8, 2021 (Virtual)
Religion Out Loud: Humanities Research, Public Scholarship, and Social Justice


Michael Puett, Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Anthropology, Harvard College professor
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020
Ritual, Sincerity, and Human Flourishing: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life
Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Creating Worlds: Imagination and Interpretation in Classical China


Kathryn Lofton, professor of religion, American studies, history, and divinity, Yale University
Consuming Religion: How Ivory Soap, Kim Kardashian, and Goldman Sachs Explain This Modern Age


Sylvester Johnson, professor, Department of Religion, Virginia Tech
Religion and National Security: Islam, Racialization, and the Politics of Counterterrorism


Prasenjit Duara, professor, Department of History, Duke University
Asian Secularisms: China, Japan, and India in the era of Abrahamic Hegemony

Kecia Ali, associate professor of religion at Boston University
Muhammad, Gender, and Islam


Evan Berry, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, American University, Washington DC
Climate Change and Religious Globalization


Mark Jordan, Washington University
event was canceled


Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Philosophy and Religious Thought and former chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University, Houston
Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal


Elizabeth Castelli, professor and chair of the Religion Department, Barnard College at Columbia University
Pier Paolo Pasolini's Political Theology: As Told through a Never-Made Film about St. Paul


Mark Juergensmeyer, director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, professor of sociology, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Rethinking Religion in a Global World

Jose Cabezon, Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and chair of the religious studies department at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Buddhist Sexual Ethics: Ancient Texts, Modern Negotiations


Catherine Keller, professor of constructive theology at Drew University’s theological and graduate schools
The Knowing Ignorance: Negative Theology & the Spooky Cosmos


Juan Cole, P. Mitchell Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan
Obstacles to Democracy in the Middle East


William E. Connolly, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of political theory, international relations in the Department of Political Science of Johns Hopkins University
Christianity, Capitalism, and the Tragic


Anne E. Monius, professor of South Asian religions, Harvard University
Humor and Salvation? The Aesthetics of Religious Identity in Medieval South India


Catherine Bell, Bernard J. Hanley Professor, Santa Clara University
Religion: Conventional Models, Unintended Consequences


Stanley M. Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Divinity School of Duke University
No One Wants to Die in America


Robert Orsi, Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America, Harvard Divinity School
Passionate Citizens: Catholics and American Democracy


Jonathan Z. Smith, Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor of the Humanities, University of Chicago
Here, There, and Anywhere: Generalizing Ancient Religions and God Save This Honourable Court: Religion and Civic Discourse


Daniel Boyarin, professor of Talmudic studies, University of California at Berkeley and Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin
The Prologue to John as a Jewish Sermon and Shattering the Logos: A Midrashic Genealogy


Diana Eck, professor of religious studies, Harvard Divinity School
Pluralism, the University, and the New Religious Landscape of America and the New Religious America: Public Issues for a New Era

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