Conferences, Lectures, Seminars and Colloquia

Throughout the course of the year the Department of Theology and Religious Studies hosts a variety of opportunities for students, faculty, theologians and often the public, to attend lectures and events on popular topics.


The Positions lecture series is sponsored by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. Series speakers discuss contemporary themes in the fields of theology and religion.

Three 2021 fall semester dates and series topics:


September 27
Joseph Loya, O.S.A., Ph.D., "'I am Spiritual but Not Religious': Pray Tell, What's Up with That?" 
View a recording.

“Spiritual but not religious”: What was once an obscure category known to few outside the circle of religious studies scholars has now become one of the most popular religious self-identifications in the United States, with over one quarter of American adults placing themselves in this camp. Does this movement represent an unsavory dilution of traditional religious beliefs? Or is there something substantive and meaningful about this new religious category? Come spend an evening with Fr. Joe Loya, OSA, who will explore these and other questions about the spiritual but not religious movement. 


October 20
Timothy Brunk, Ph.D., “The Sacraments and Consumer Culture”
View a recording.

Most Americans are proud consumers and scholars have documented how a consumerist mentality pervades various aspects of our lives, from the corporatization of higher education to our conception of the “good life” to personal relationships.  As Tim Brunk, Ph.D., argues in his new award-winning book, The Sacraments and Consumer Culture (Liturgical Press, 2020), which received the 2021 Catholic Media Association first place award for books on the sacraments, this consumerist mentality has now begun to seep into sacramental celebrations. Dr. Brunk will discuss how this occurs, its significance for the celebration of the sacraments, and ways to maintain the meaning of the sacraments and to keep the consumerist mentality at bay.


November 11, 7-8 p.m. 
Gerald Beyer, Ph.D., “What is a Just University?”
This event has been cancelled.

In the fall of each year, Kevin Hughes, PhD, a professor of historical theology, assembles keynote speakers and scholars from around the world and across the country to join in a three-day conference which has been held since the mid-1970s and is a true tradition of scholarship. Learn more about this year's conference theme, call for papers, the history of the conference, and view past plenary lectures.




Religion is central to our understanding of complex issues such as culture, politics, race and gender relations, historical events, law, science and technology, and environmental responsibility and sustainability to name a few. We offer public lectures—inviting everyone to hear the dialogue among theology, religion, and culture that are intertwined through important issues of our time, both locally and globally. Expect them to be provocative topics where faith and culture intersect.

Mark Graham, PhD, who is a professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, also is chair of the University’s Task Force on the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church. Prominent experts from around the world have joined the conversation here at Villanova to better understand the root causes of the crisis and how to keep children safe from abuse. Details about the Task Force can be found on the Office of the President website. Recordings of prior lectures offered through this series are also available.


Tuesday, October 12, 7:00-8:00 p.m. (eastern standard time) 
Stephen Kent, Ph.D., University of Alberta, on "How Child Sexual Grooming Occurs in Alternative Religions, Sects, and Cults” 
View a recording.

Dr. Stephen Kent, Ph.D., of the University of Alberta, has twice received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant to study sects, cults, and new religions in Canada and the United States, which has allowed him to amass one of North America’s largest collections on alternative religions.  His recent work on the grooming of children for sexual abuse in religious settings shows how uniquely religious considerations facilitate the grooming of children, which often differs markedly from sexual abuse occurring in secular settings.



These forums offer an opportunity for graduate students and faculty to hear the research of our department members and the lively exchange of ideas that ensues. Conversations open to the community will be posted here.


October 7, 3:00–4:30 p.m., Dougherty West Lounge
This year we are honored to host Dr. Willie James Jennings, Yale Divinity School, as our keynote speaker. Dr. Jennings’ book After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging, addresses the theme of this year’s colloquium focused on race and pedagogy in higher education.



The Villanova Political Theology Project advances intellectually sophisticated discussions of religion and politics that engage deeply with the Christian tradition and speak broadly to pressing issues of the day. Led by TRS faculty member Vincent Lloyd, PhD, the project is supported by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, the Office of Mission and Ministry, the Provost's Office, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a Grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Learn more about the Political Theology Network, the national professional organization for the study of religion and politics, by visiting


Department of Theology and Religious Studies
800 E. Lancaster Ave.
St. Augustine Center Room 203
Villanova, PA 19085


The Department of Theology and Religious Studies often offers a livestream of their events, making them accessible to the wider community. You can watch these recorded events on YouTube.