James W. Fowler is a graduate of Duke University and Drew Theological Seminary and earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University in Religion and Society in 1971, with a focus in ethics and sociology of religion. He pursued post-doctoral studies at the Center for Moral Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1971-72). He taught at Harvard Divinity School (1969-75) and at Boston College (1975-76). In 1977 he joined the faculty of Emory's Candler School of Theology. Emory named him the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Theology and Human Development in 1987. His pioneering research and the resulting theory of faith development have earned him international recognition. His best-known book, Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Development and the Quest for Meaning, is in its 38th printing, and has been translated into German, Korean, and Portuguese editions.
Dr. Fowler has written or edited ten other books and more than 60 articles, contributing to the fields of practical theology and theological ethics. Four volumes of critical discussion of Fowler’s research and theory have emerged from national and international seminars devoted to his work. He has received the Oskar Pfister Award from the American Psychiatric Association, “for enduring contributions to the dialogue between religion and psychiatry” and the William James Award from the American Psychological Association, “for contributions that advance the psychology of religion.” Both awards came in 1994. In 1999 the University of Edinburgh awarded him a doctor of divinity degree, honoris causa.
From 1994 to 2005, Fowler served as the first full-time director of the Center for Ethics at Emory. He was a minister in the United Methodist Church.