The Expansion and Mission of Christianity: Past, Present, and Future

Presented by Fr. Paul Kollman, C.S.C.

This course examines the growth of Christianity over the past two millennia, placing the current situation of the world Christian movement in all its varieties within a historical perspective. Participants will gain an appreciation for the present circumstances of a variety of Christian communities and churches, and also explore historical, cultural, and social factors that have created them. We will discuss how Christianity arose and spread, why it might be shrinking in certain places, and the ways that Christianity has interacted with other religions as well as a variety of cultural and political circumstances.

Mindful that to study religion touches on issues of personal importance, and thus can be risky, the class will also consider how appreciating the Christian story can assist faculty members to teach responsibly about Christianity, and religion in general, in the settings in which area teachers find themselves at work. These include schools that are religiously linked and those that are not, and in classes of various ages and composed of different religious constituencies.


About Fr. Paul Kollman, C.S.C. 

Father Paul Kollman, C.S.C., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theology and a Fellow of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion here at the University of Notre Dame. He has also been the Director of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. His research focuses on African Christianity, mission history, and world Christianity, and he has carried out research in eastern Africa, Nigeria, and South Africa, as well as in archives in Europe and the United States.

Kollman has published articles and reviews in a variety of journals in theology, religious studies, and African studies. These include Theology Today, The Journal of Religion in Africa, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Theological Studies, The International Bulletin of Missionary Research, The Journal of Religion, The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, African Studies, The International Journal of African Historical Studies, The Journal of African History, and Mission Studies. In 2005 he published The Evangelization of Slaves and Catholic Origins in Eastern Africa, and in 2018 he co-published Understanding World Christianity: Eastern Africa. He is currently working on several projects, including a monograph on the Catholic missionary evangelization of eastern Africa, and a long-term study of the Catholic Charismatic Movement in Africa with several political scientists.