History and  


What is Renewal?

The Renewal Conference is Iliff’s annual community gathering to share our work, hear timely messages from a variety of experts, and spend time in fellowship. Each year, we focus on a different overall theme which is relevant to our society in those moments, and each day provides content focused on part of the conference theme. This spring, our Renewal sessions will focus on how we navigate change in the world, in our institutions and systems, and in our own lives. We will ask the question, “What do we do now?” and learn what we can do to push for change that makes the world a more just, equitable place.

We will continue with the monthly online event series. We will be partnering with faculty, staff, alumni, students, and community members to discuss the changing world around us and the real actions we can take to continue to work toward justice.

Want to learn more about navigating change? Check out the Complexified Podcast, hosted by Amanda Henderson, Director of the Iliff Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture. This season, Complexified will focus on change–generational change, political change, changing theologies, and much more!

Friday, Oct. 6th, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm MDT via Zoom

“History and Memory: Telling Complicated National Narratives”

Blurb: The history of the United States is littered with uncomfortable, problematic and complicated figures–real, messy people whose decisions molded the country. How do we tell their stories, explore their legacies, and consider the consequences of their choices? For our October Renewal session, Blanca Alvarez Stransky, National Park Service Superintendent of Pinnacles National Park, will talk about her work leading the team that created the exhibits and memorial at Arlington House, the home of Robert E. Lee and many enslaved persons. She will discuss the steps she took to honestly tell the stories of all the inhabitants of this historic location. Superintendent Stransky will share about the process of creating the exhibits, the challenges her team faced, and the results and ramifications of this work.


Blanca Alvarez Stransky
Superintendent, National Park Service
Pinnacles National Park

Superintendent Blanca Alvarez Stransky began her career with the National Park Service directly out of college, starting as a seasonal park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park and growing into other roles throughout the National Parks. She has served at Denali National Park and Preserve, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Zion National Park, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, and Chamizal National Memorial. She is currently Superintendent of Pinnacles National Park in Paicines, California.

Wednesday, Sept. 20th, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm MDT via Zoom

“History and Memory: Contested Spaces”

Religious and historical locations can be incredibly significant parts of our culture and important tools for remembering our past. But what happens when different groups carry different memories of a space? How do we deal with conflicting understandings of what a place means? For our September Renewal Session, Dr. Jacob Kinnard will talk about contested spaces: what they are, how they come to be, and what we do in response. Join us for this first session of the 2023-24 Renewal Series History and Memory.


Dr. Jacob N. Kinnard
Professor of Comparative Religions

Jacob N. Kinnard is Professor of Comparative Religions. He teaches a range of courses on the religions of India and methodological and theoretical issues, including course on pilgrimage, religion and violence, and religion and the environment. He is the author of Places in Motion: The Fluid Identities of Temples, Images, and Pilgrims (Oxford), Imaging Wisdom: Seeing and Knowing in the Art of Indian Buddhism (Routledge), and The Emergence of Buddhism (Fortress), and he co-edited the volume Constituting Communities: Theravada Traditions in South and Southeast Asia (SUNY). Kinnard earned his BA from Bowdoin College, and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.