Bio

For my full CV, click here.

I am a scholar, author, educator and mentor with interests in happiness, virtue and the common good.  I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, where I teach courses on research methods for studying religion, philosophy of social science, religion and social theory, religion and immigration, intentional communities and religion and resilience. I’m currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Living a Broken Life, Beautifully that explores the religious lives of young adults who have experienced traumatic life events.

After earning my B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, I conducted fieldwork on the re-integration into civilian life of ex-combatants in Central America in the mid-1990s. Seeing how communities recovered more quickly from the devastating civil wars because they had strong leadership and numerous community organizations led me to earn my M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. My book Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora (University of California Press, 2009) demonstrated how religious communities support the successful adaptation of Haitian immigrants in the U.S., Canada and France.

After spending six years on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in July 2013, I joined the Department of Sociology at Yale University as an Associate Research Scientist. As part of a funded research grant from the John Templeton Foundation, I interviewed young adults in 10 different states across the U.S. who have undergone traumatic life events. Through their personal narratives, I explore the importance of relationships and communities to fostering human flourishing following traumatic events. I am interested in the types of cultural narratives and social structures that empower people who suffer to nonetheless to realize their freedom in accord with human dignity. I am also interested in greater inter-disciplinary work between sociology, philosophy and theology.

In addition to my numerous publications in academic journals, I contribute insights on happiness, virtue and the common good to the Black, White and Gray blog. As a Resident Fellow of Calhoun College at Yale, I organized the Calhoun Happiness Project to teach students about the art and science of happiness and guide them towards practical applications that improve their wellbeing and that of others around them.

In 2016, I founded Scala Foundation, whose mission is to promote classical liberal arts education and support research on authentic human flourishing. Although core questions about human existence were part of a classical education, today many students struggle to connect their classroom experiences to ultimate concerns such as questions of moral truth, the common good, and virtue. Gaining wisdom, deepening faith, developing virtues, and building friendships have been separated from acquiring knowledge. Without a passion for truth and an intimate community of peers, intellectual pursuits may not lead to flourishing lives and thriving communities. In Scala’s activities, faculty model how a challenging learning environment can take place in an atmosphere of hospitality and friendship. Faculty also help students explore the philosophical assumptions behind what they are learning. Scala’s activities promote virtues such as thoroughness, intellectual courage, and creative thinking.

For my full CV, click here.