Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals

People of Faith ISAE Banner

The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals closed at the end of December 2014. A short video about the origins, development, and impact of the ISAE was created to commemorate the ISAE's history. Watch >>

Founded in 1982 by evangelical historians and Wheaton College alumni Mark A. Noll ’68 and Nathan O. Hatch ’68, the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals served as a center for research while functioning as a program of Wheaton College.

Conferences and conference-generated books have been one of the Institute’s most important contributions. The ISAE was the driving force behind thirty published volumes. Each academic conference and project resulted in a monograph or an edited volume of essays.

In addition to conferences, the ISAE undertook longer-term research projects that funded a portion of the work of several scholars. These projects included studies about the impact of the foreign missions movement on North America, the financing of American evangelicalism, evangelicals' relationship to the mass media, and a study of American hymnody. The Institute's last project examined the career and legacy of famed evangelist Billy Graham.

From 1985 to 2014, the ISAE published a quarterly newsletter, The Evangelical Studies Bulletin (ESB). The ESB reached an audience of scholars, graduate students, pastors, and interested laypeople with reviews of important new books on North American evangelicalism and historic and contemporary American religion, as well as notices about recent publications, academic conferences, and news about research funding opportunities.

In addition to providing leadership in the study of evangelicals and informing the public, the ISAE  supported evangelical scholars from a variety of disciplines who sought to apply Christian truths to intellectual and cultural endeavors. For its core support, the Institute relied partially upon endowment income. Most program-related funding, however, originated in grants from foundations such as the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Luce Foundation, as well as gifts from individual donors.

Serving Wheaton College

The Institute frequently brought distinguished scholars of American religion to the campus of Wheaton College for lectures and meetings open to both the college and the local community.

Over the years the Institute also offered classes and seminars on various themes and topics in American religious history for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as provided an opportunity for faculty interested in religion and American life to present and discuss their work.

Serving the Public at Large

Informing the News Media

The Institute’s staff members penned articles and provided interviews for national magazines and newspapers (e.g., Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times,  and many more), and routinely served as expert sources for the media on any number of topics and issues related to American evangelicalism.

Assisting Religious Publishers

The Institute regularly answered questions from editors and writers from religious periodicals, such as Christianity Today, The Christian Century, Charisma and many others, serving as an important element linking publishers and authors in evangelical and religious publishing networks.