Penny Edgell

About Me

Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Sociology
University of Minnesota

Penny in Bjorbo by river.jpg
This site is a gateway for my research, teaching, and related interests. I am a professor in the sociology department at the University of Minnesota.

I study religion in the United States. My main interest is in how religion shapes moral culture. My recent work looks at religion and family, religion and race, and religion and understandings of American citizenship. I'm also working on a project that examines how religion shapes people's responses to contemporary social dilemmas, and especially ones where religious, legal, and scientific experts make competing claims about what we, as a society, should do.

These projects have allowed me to continue to work on the "big questions" that have motivated my research since graduate school:

How does religion shape the way we think about "the good" in public and private life?
When and how and why is religion powerful? When does it shape individual lives, local communities, our laws and institutions, and national debates?
How does religion bring people together in our society, and when does it reinforce the boundaries that separate us?


For me, being a professor in a state University means being part of the community. I also enjoy getting out to the many state parks and natural areas nearby. I like all kinds of travel, including poking around backroads in Minnesota, which is where I got this shot of the bluffs near Redwing last October . . .

Bluffs near redwing2.JPG

and this one of the wildflowers blooming at Nerstrand Big Woods . . .

Nerstrand flower.jpg

And I have a fondness for our National Parks.

Dusk coming on in the Badlands . . .
Black Hills Brooding Dusk 1.jpg

Big Bend . . .
Big Bend.jpg.
Zion . . .