Distinguished Speakers Series

15th Annual Distinguished Guest Speaker

Dr. Nicholas Denysenko, Valparaiso University

Nicholas Denysenko is Emil and Elfriede Jochum University Professor and Chair and Professor of Theology at Valparaiso University in Indiana. He is the author of numerous articles and books on liturgy and religion in Ukraine, including The Church's Unholy War: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine and Orthodoxy (Cascade Books, 2023). 

Nicholas Denysenko in front of a body of water

"Making Sense of the Role of Religion in Russia's Invasion of Ukraine"

The war in Ukraine is now over two years old, and the human toll is staggering: over 14.6 million Ukrainians are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Russia's list of grievances used to justify its brutal invasion include an accusation that Ukraine has persecuted the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. How does religion figure into the war? Nicholas Denysenko of Valparaiso University explains how a simmering conflict among Orthodox Christians in Ukraine contributed to Putin's decision to bomb and invade Ukraine. In this public lecture, Denysenko will introduce the historical events that created divisions among Orthodox believers in Ukraine and Russia, will explain how religious leaders use hate speech to promote discrimination and violence in Ukraine, and will address the controversial claim that the Ukrainian government is persecuting the Russian Orthodox Church and its believers in Ukraine. 

Event Information

Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

Time: 4pm

Where: Academic West (AW) 204 


Nicholas Denysenko received his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota (1994), and his graduate degrees at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (M.Div., 2000) and The Catholic University of America (Ph.D., 2008). Prior to coming to Valpo, he taught for seven years at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he also served as director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute. Denysenko writes and speaks on diverse topics, and specializes in liturgical theology and Orthodox Christianity. His work has appeared in venues such as the Journal for the American Academy of Religion, Theological Studies, Studia Liturgica, Worship, and St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly. He blogs regularly at “Pray, Tell: Worship, Wit & Wisdom.” In his research, Denysenko explores the intersections of liturgical history, ritual studies, and pastoral theology, and writes for an ecumenical audience. He has published books, articles, and essays on liturgical theology and religion in Ukraine. Denysenko is the author of The Orthodox Church in Ukraine: A Century of Separation (Northern Illinois University Press, 2018), This is the Year That the Lord Has Made: The Liturgical Year in Orthodoxy
(Cascade Books, 2023), and
The Church’s Unholy War: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine and Orthodoxy (Cascade Books, 2023). 

Questions and Accommodations

Maureen Christman is the coordinator for the Distinguished Speaker Series.

Feel free to email GHR@wwu.edu if you have any questions or comments.

Previous Distinguished Speakers

Professor of English and Medieval Studies at the University of Connecticut

"Exacting Consent: Silent Consent and Public Voice from Chaucer to the Twenty-first Century"

Professor of Sanskrit in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

"A Tale of Three Cities: Valmiki's Ramayana and the Foundations of the Culture, Society and Religion in Early India"

Associate Professor of South Asia Studies and Comparative Religion, University of Washington

"Stretching Religion: Yoga in Philosophy, Temple Architecture, and Gandhi's India"

Professor of German Studies, McGill University

"Representations of Terrorism and Mass-Media"

Republic of China Chair, Department of History and Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia

"Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century: A China Connection?"

Previous Department Sponsored Speakers

Dr. K.S. Balasubramanian Award-winning international scholar, author, and professor.
Deputy Director of the Kuppuswamy Sastri Research Institute in Chennai, India.

Yoga Sutra Lecture Series