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The Spiritual History of UW-Madison—New Research and Luncheon for the University Community

Wed 03.01.23 @ 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM CST

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Historian Dan Hummel (Upper House) brings to the UW-Madison community new research about the spiritual history of UW-Madison that is relevant to all those who care for its legacy and seek to remain current on its nuanced story. Faculty, administrators, and staff are invited to the presentation of this research at a special luncheon hosted specifically for the university community on March 1. At that luncheon, insights gleaned by archival research and recorded interviews with UW emeritus faculty—funded as part of the Higher Pursuits Project supported by the John Templeton Foundation—will be shared with attendees, including:


  • An in-depth historical essay titled “The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Ideal of Nonsectarianism: Organized Religion at a Flagship Public University, 1848–2023,” by Daniel G. Hummel, Ph.D. 
  • A 20-minute documentary about the religious heritage of the university’s faculty titled “University of Wisconsin-Madison Leaders Whose Work was Marked by Faith” 
  • A 14-stop self-guided tour of the old campus of UW-Madison titled “A Walking Audio Tour of the Spiritual Geography of the University of Wisconsin-Madison” 


Audience members will hear from Dan Hummel about UW’s rich, but complicated, religious heritage, as well as have an opportunity to view a video highlighting faculty luminaries whose work and faith informed one another and the institution at large. Throughout its history, many of the university’s chancellors, presidents, and leaders sought to balance questions of faith and purpose as they negotiated public tensions. The numerous churches surrounding the campus, for example, harken to leaders’ policy choices. Attendees will leave with fresh eyes to observe often-overlooked campus features, such as the religiously-themed plaques on buildings and the statue honoring Abraham in the Humanities’ building courtyard. In recovering some of its history and telling the ongoing story of spiritual and religious expression at UW-Madison, Upper House seeks to illuminate ways spiritual inquiry and practice have been vital to UW’s identity in the past and can continue to help the campus thrive in the future.

Please register to reserve your place for this luncheon and presentation, followed by Q&A. 

Daniel G. Hummel

Dan Hummel is a historian, author, and Director of University Engagement at Upper House. He received his Ph.D. in history from UW-Madison, and his writings on American religion and politics have appeared in The Washington Post and Christianity Today. He is the author of The Rise and Fall of Dispensationalism: How the Evangelical Battle Over the End Times Shaped a Nation (Eerdmans Press, forthcoming May 2023) and Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israeli Relations (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019).



Wed 03.01.23
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM CST
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Melissa Shackelford


Upper House
365 East Campus Mall, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53715 United States
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