John Wall is Professor of Philosophy, Religion, and Childhood Studies, as well as Director of the Childism Institute, at Rutgers University Camden. He is a theoretical ethicist who works in political philosophy, post-structuralism, and children’s rights.
His latest book is Give Children the Vote: On Democratizing Democracy (Bloomsbury 2021). It argues that denying children the vote in democratic societies is both unjust and counterproductive. Using political philosophy, history, and childhood studies, it responds to the major objections made to children’s suffrage and shows why ageless enfranchisement is in reality both important for democracy and beneficial for both children and societies. It also makes the childist case that, just as with other enfranchised groups over history, children’s suffrage would lead to stronger democracies.
He is also co-editor with Sarada Balagopalan and Karen Wells of the forthcoming Handbook of Theories in Childhood Studies (Bloomsbury 2022), a 36-chapter volume by leading global experts that advances the cutting-edge theoretical work that has been produced within the field of childhood studies and that has been central in that field to understanding children’s lives critically. He is also editor of the forthcoming Exploring Children’s Suffrage (Palgrave Macmillan 2022), a multidisciplinary study of ageless enfranchisement by leading political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, historians, economists, medical researchers, legal scholars, and others.
He is founding director of the Childism Institute, a global collaboration dedicated to challenging children’s historical marginalization by transforming scholarly, social, and political structures and norms. In this capacity, he leads the organization of colloquia, workshops, conferences, speakers, collaborative publications, opinion pieces, special issues of journals, edited volumes, and books, as well as developing workshops and consultations for local, national, and international organizations run by both adults and children to understand how childism could inform – and be informed by – their work.
He is also co-founder of the Children’s Voting Colloquium, an international consortium of scholars and activists working to eliminate voting ages at the local, national, and global levels. This organization has been instrumental in connecting researchers and activists across many countries and backgrounds to build the groundwork for stronger democratic futures.
His previous books include Children’s Rights: Today’s Global Challenge (Rowman & Littlefield 2016), an argument that children’s rights are the major human rights challenge of the twenty-first century; Ethics in Light of Childhood (Georgetown 2010), where he develops the concept of “childism” or empowering children’s experiences to transform social norms; and Moral Creativity (Oxford 2005), an post-structuralist interpretation of moral existence as ontological poetics.
He has in addition authored dozens of articles and chapters and is co-editor of Children and Armed Conflict (Palgrave 2011); Marriage, Health, and the Professions (Eerdmans 2002); and Paul Ricoeur and Contemporary Moral Thought (Routledge 2002; paperback 2016).
Dr. Wall received a Ph.D. in Religious Ethics from the University of Chicago in 1999. He has taught at Rutgers University Camden since 2000, where he teaches courses in Children’s Rights, Evil, Biomedical Ethics, Religion and Culture, Introduction to the Bible, and Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Childhood.
In 2006 he helped to create North America’s first doctoral program in Childhood Studies, and from 2010 to 2012 chaired the Childhood Studies and Religion Group at the American Academy of Religion. In Fall 2016 he served as Acting Associate Dean of the Rutgers University Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences Graduate School and Research. He has chaired or read for numerous dissertations and serves on several scholarly journal editorial boards. He was awarded a 2006 Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence and a 2005 Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Rutgers University.
Dr. Wall is also working on a novel, The Art of Being, and a new book project on the connection of ethics to aesthetics titled Transsensus.