Margarita Mooney Clayton

In the words of National Review editor-at-large, Kathryn Jean Lopez, “the world needs more Margarita Mooney [Clayton].”

As a Cuban-American woman whose work lies at the intersection of the social sciences with philosophy and theology, Margarita Mooney Clayton excels at encouraging students, readers, listeners and audiences to think about important questions in culture, education and faith in new and different ways. 

Margarita is a frequent speaker to women’s organizations, think tanks, schools, church groups and a variety of other nonprofits as well as businesses about faith and values. She is a passionate keynote speaker on higher education, culture and Christianity at venues including Yale University, Harvard Law School, Columbia University, Duke University, Pepperdine University, and the Catholic University of America. 

Margarita’s most recent books with Cluny Media The Wounds of Beauty: Seven Dialogues on Art and Education (2022) and The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts (2021), grew out of her decades of experience as a teacher and scholar. Her 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, and she’s the co-author (with Camille Z. Charles, Mary S. Fischer,  and Douglas S. Massey) of Taming the River: Negotiating the Academic, Financial, and Social Currents in Selective Colleges and Universities (Princeton University Press, 2009). 

In addition to her scholarly books and articles, Margarita has written for publications that reach wide audiences both inside and outside academia such as Comment, Plough MagazineReal Clear PolicyScientific AmericanThe Chronicle of Higher Education, The Miami Herald, America Magazine, First Things, Hedgehog Review, Public DiscourseChurch Life Journal and the National Catholic Register.

Margarita’s writing and research have been widely cited and praised, including by David Brooks in The New York Times, by Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review and by Francis X. Maier in The Catholic Thing. She has been interviewed by organizations such as the Acton Institute, Duke Divinity School, the Institute for Humane Studies, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and by Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio.

Currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Practical Theology  at Princeton Theological Seminary, she teaches courses on philosophy of social science, Christianity and the liberal arts tradition, aesthetics, research methods for congregational leaders, and sociology of religion. 

Margarita founded The Scala Foundation in 2016 and continues to serve as Scala’s Executive Director. Scala Foundation’s vision is to restore meaning and purpose to American culture by focusing on the intersection of artists (culture creators), liberal arts education and religion (liturgy, personal prayer, theology). Scala engages in deep work in the local community around Princeton to bring together artists, students, teachers, and scholars. Scala also produces publications (books, blogs, articles, interviews), and hosts public events like conferences, webinars and campus lectures open to the public. Scala’s activities are led by internationally renowned artists, prestigious scholars, and exemplary educators in both K-12 and higher education who teach workshops for educators, lead masterclasses for artists, and run summer programs and seminars for students.

Margarita received her B.A. in Psychology from Yale University and her M.A and Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University. She has also been on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Yale University, Princeton University and Pepperdine University.

To hear more about Margarita’s career, view her highlight reel here:

To hear more about Margarita’s story, view “Free Mind, Free Conscience,” which depicts Margarita’s journey: