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Damon, William

Bill Damon
Bill Damon
Academic Title 
Other Titles 

Director Stanford Center on Adolescence

Hoover Senior Fellow, Hoover Institute (by courtesy)

Contact Information
Program Affiliations 
Research Interests 
Adolescent Development
Civic Education
Higher Education
Moral Education

Development of moral commitment through the lifespan; the formation of purpose during adolescence; educational methods for promoting character, moral identity, and the capacity for good work.

Dr. Damon writes on moral development through the lifespan. Recently he has begun a study on the development of purpose during adolescence. In addition, he is conducting research on how young professionals can learn to do work that is at the same time highly masterful and highly moral. Damon has written several books on moral and character development, and he is the editor-in-chief of New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development and The Handbook of Child Psychology. Damon also serves as the director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, a campus-based research think-tank that focuses on character and civic education. Damon's research has led to a number of widely-recognized educational methods, including community "youth charters" and a training program on good journalism for mid-career news professionals.

"The future of any society depends upon the character and competence of its young. In order to develop character and competence, young people need guidance to provide them with direction and a sense of purpose. They need relationships that embody and communicate high standards. They need to experience activities that are challenging, inspiring, and educative. Many of the conditions for the development of character and competence in the young have deteriorated in recent years. Instead of finding guidance and clear standards, young people often encounter inattention, low expectations, cynicism, or community conflict. In many places, families, schools, religious institutions, and neighborhoods have weakened. Mass media transmit messages that are confusing at best and corrupting at worst. All of these conditions must be changed if we are to create a society where youngsters can attain their full potential. The future of our society depends upon it."

- from The Youth Charter, by William Damon

  • PhD (Developmental Psychology), University of California, Berkeley, 1973
  • BA, Harvard University, 1967.

Professor of Education (1997 - )

Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence (1997 - )

Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace (1999 - )

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Clark University (1973-1978)

Associate Professor of Psychology (1978-1982)

Professor of Psychology, Clark University (1982-1989)

Dean of the Graduate School, Clark University (1983-1987)

Chair of Education, Clark University (1988-1989)

Professor of Education, Brown University (1989-1998)

Chair of Education, Brown University (1989-1992)

The Mittlemann Family Director, Center for the Study of Human Development (1992-1998)

University Professor, Brown University (1996 - 1998)

  • Moral Education (Ed 247)
  • Social, Emotional, and Personality Development (Ed 365)

Damon, W. (2011) Failing Liberty 101: How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared for Citizenship in a Free Society. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.

Damon, W. (2009) The why question: Teachers can instill a sense of purpose. Education Next, 9, 3, 84.

Damon, W. (2008) The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find their Calling in Life. New York: The Free Press.

Damon, W. (2008) The moral north star. Educational Leadership, 66, 8-12. (Also in Engaging the Whole Child, an ASCD e-book, 2009).

Damon, W. (2008) Education and the path to purpose. Independent School , 68, 61-64.

Damon, W. What schools and colleges must do to prepare students for citizenship. In P. Levine and J. Youniss (Eds.) (2008) Youth and Civic Participation. College Park, MD: A CIRCLE publication.

Damon, W. (2007) Dispositions and teacher assessment: The need for a more rigorous definition. Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 365 – 369.

Damon, W., and Bronk, K. (2007). Taking ultimate responsibility. In H. Gardner (Ed.): Responsibility at work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Damon, W., and Lerner, R. (Eds.) (2006) Handbook of Child Psychology: The sixth edition (Vols. 1- 4). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Damon, W., and Verducci, S. (Eds.) (2006) Taking Philanthropy Seriously: Beyond Noble Intentions to Responsible Giving. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Damon, W., and Mueller, B. (2006) Improving newsroom communication: Impact of a traveling curriculum for journalism education. American Editor, January-February, 22 – 24.

Damon, W. (2006) Recent research on good work and the development of young adults: Lessons for law schools. In S. Brown (Ed.), Can Justice be taught?: The social responsibility of a lawyer and a law school education. Osaka, Japan: Kwansei Gaikun University Press.

Gardner, H., Csikszentmihalyi, M., and Damon, W. (2001) Good Work: When excellence and ethics meet. New York: Basic Books. (German, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Romanian translations, 2001 – 2005).

National Academy of Education, 2000 -

Editor-in-Chief, Handbook of Child Psychology, 1998, 2006 editions.

Advisory Boards, Positive Coaching Alliance, The Thriving Indicators Project, The John Templeton Foundation.

Keynote address, "Character Education," First International Conference on Positive Psychology, Washington, D.C., October 2002.