Michael Lamb is the F. M. Kirby Foundation Chair of Leadership and Character, Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character, and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Wake Forest University. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Oxford Character Project. He holds a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University, a B.A. in political science from Rhodes College, and a second B.A. in philosophy and theology from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
Michael’s research focuses on the ethics of citizenship and the role of virtues in public life. His book, A Commonwealth of Hope: Augustine’s Political Thought (Princeton University Press, 2022), offers a novel interpretation of Augustine’s political thought and recovers his virtue of hope to inform contemporary politics. He is also a co-editor of Cultivating Virtue in the University (Oxford University Press, 2022) and Everyday Ethics: Moral Theology and the Practices of Ordinary Life (Georgetown University Press, 2019). His work has been published in a number of edited volumes and academic journals, including the American Political Science Review, Review of Politics, Journal of Religious Ethics, Journal of Moral Education, and Journal of Character Education.
Michael’s broader interests include virtue ethics, leadership and character development, religion and politics, ethics and public policy, and politics and literature. He has taught interdisciplinary courses in politics, ethics, and religion at Oxford, Princeton, Rhodes, and Wake Forest. For excellence in teaching, he was awarded the George Kateb Teaching Award for Best Preceptor from Princeton’s Department of Politics, a Teaching Excellence Award from Oxford’s Humanities Division, and a Teaching Award from Wake Forest’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching.
A political theorist with experience in practical politics, Michael has advised universities on character education and civic engagement and served as chief of staff for campaigns for state senate, Governor, and U.S. Congress in his home state of Tennessee. At the University of Oxford, he helped to launch the Oxford Character Project, which helps graduate students in various fields—including government, law, medicine, business, and academia—think about the role of ethics in their professions. He also served as Dean of Leadership, Service, and Character Development for Rhodes Scholars. He is currently working with the Wake Forest community to develop programs in leadership and character. He also serves as principal investigator on a $30 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., to build the capacity of other colleges and universities to educate character.
Ph.D., Politics, Princeton University, 2014
Dissertation: A Commonwealth of Hope: Virtue, Rhetoric, and Religion in Augustine’s Political Thought
Committee: Melissa Lane (Politics), Stephen Macedo (Politics), Jeffrey Stout (Religion), Eric Gregory (Religion), John Bowlin (Princeton Theological Seminary)
Master of Arts, Politics, Princeton University, 2011
Interdepartmental Program in Political Philosophy
General Exam Fields: Political Theory; Religion, Ethics, and Politics; Public Law
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Theology, University of Oxford, 2006
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Rhodes College, 2004
Summa cum laude
“Cultivating Virtues in Postgraduates: An Empirical Analysis of the Oxford Global Leadership Initiative” (with Jonathan Brant, Emily Burdett, and Edward Brooks), Journal of Moral Education (forthcoming).
“How Might Universities Cultivate Leaders of Character?: Insights from a Leadership and Character Development Program at the University of Oxford” (with Edward Brooks and Jonathan Brant), International Journal of Ethics Education (forthcoming).
Michael Lamb and Brian Williams, eds., Everyday Ethics: Moral Theology and the Practices of Ordinary Life (Georgetown University Press, 2019).
Michael Lamb, “Augustine and Political Theory,” in T&T Clark Handbook of Political Theology, ed. Rubén Rosario Rodríguez (T&T Clark, forthcoming 2019).
Olga Pierrakos, Michael Prentice, Cameron Silverglate, Michael Lamb, Alana Demaske, and Ryan Smout,“Reimagining Engineering Ethics: From Ethics Education to Character Education,” 2019 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference Proceedings (forthcoming).
Michael Lamb, “Introduction,” Symposium on John Bowlin’s Tolerance among the Virtues, Syndicate (forthcoming 2019)
Michael Lamb, Emma Taylor-Collins, and Cameron Silverglate, “Character Education for Social Action: A Conceptual Analysis of the #iwill Campaign,” Journal of Social Science Education 18, no. 1 (2019), 125–152.
Michael Lamb, “Between Presumption and Despair: Augustine’s Hope for the Commonwealth,” American Political Science Review 112, no. 4 (2018), 1036–1049.
Michael Lamb, “Beyond Pessimism: A Structure of Encouragement in Augustine’s City of God,” Review of Politics 80, no. 4 (2018), 591–624.
Michael Lamb, “Ethics for Climate Change Communicators,” in Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication, ed. Matthew C. Nisbet, Shirley S. Ho, Ezra Markowitz, Saffron O’Neill, Mike S. Schäfer, and Jagadish Thaker (Oxford University Press, 2018).
*Also published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science (Oxford University Press, 2017).
Michael Lamb, “Augustine and Republican Liberty: Contextualizing Coercion,” Augustinian Studies 48, no. 1/2 (2017), 119–159.
Michael Lamb and Melissa Lane, “Aristotle on the Ethics of Communicating Climate Change,” in Climate Justice in a Non-Ideal World, ed. Clare Heyward and Dominic Roser, eds., (Oxford University Press, 2016), 229–254.
Michael Lamb, “Aquinas and the Virtues of Hope: Theological and Democratic,” Focus Issue on Aquinas and the Democratic Virtues, Journal of Religious Ethics 44, no. 2 (June 2016), 300–332.
Michael Lamb, “A Passion and Its Virtue: Aquinas on Hope and Magnanimity,” in Hope, ed. Ingolf U. Dalferth and Marlene A. Block (Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 67–88.
Michael Lamb, editor and contributor, Transformations: Stories of Service (Rhodes College, 2004).
FYS-100: Commencing Character: How Should We Live?
HMN-211/POL-269: Dialogues with Antiquity: How to Keep a Republic
HMN 385: Leadership and Character in Global Context