Christian Smith, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame, will serve as Candler’s 2022-2023 Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and Their Impact on Culture. In this role, Smith will present public lectures on Oct. 6 and Oct. 12 and will teach the fall course “Sociology of Religion.”

Well known for his research focused on religion, adolescents and emerging adults, and social theory, Smith was a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 12 years before his move to Notre Dame. He received his MA and PhD from Harvard University and his BA from Gordon College. 

Smith is the author of nine monographs, most recently Religion: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters (Princeton University Press, 2017) and To Flourish or Destruct: A Personalist Theory of Human Goods, Motivations, Failure, and Evil (University of Chicago Press, 2015). He has also co-authored and edited numerous volumes. 

Smith's early work on social movements examined structural political opportunities and individuals' personal moral motivations for participating in social activism. His more recent research on the religious and spiritual lives of U.S. adolescents emphasizes the interplay of broad cultural influences, family socialization, and religious motivations in forming the spiritual and life experiences and outcomes of American youth.