John Wall is a theoretical ethicist whose research and teaching focus on theories of moral life. He is particularly interested in moral life’s relations to language, power, culture, and childhood. His work falls into three main areas: post-structuralist ethics; political theory; and children and childhoods.
His latest book, forthcoming in November 2021, is Give Children the Vote: How to Democratize Democracy (Bloomsbury, 2021). It makes a detailed, critical, and comprehensive argument for eliminating all restrictions of voting age. Using a combination of political philosophy, sociology, history, and childhood studies, it responds to the major objections made to children’s suffrage. And it demonstrates that ageless enfranchisement is both necessary for democratic justice and systematically beneficial for children, adults, and societies. It also makes the childist case that, just as with other enfranchised groups over history, children’s suffrage would make democracies more democratic for all.
He is also co-editor with Sarada Balagopalan and Karen Wells of the forthcoming Handbook of Theories in Childhood Studies (Bloomsbury 2022). This 36-chapter volume by leading global experts 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 theorizing children’s lives. It draws together a wide range of theoretical perspectives from the social sciences, humanities, politics, postcolonialism, feminism, critical race studies, queer theory, disabilities studies, and the like to generate a much-needed conversation about how to move childhood studies forward as a grounded field of research.
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. It does so by developing colloquia, workshops, conferences, speakers, collaborative publications, opinion pieces, special issues of journals, edited volumes, and books, as well as by formulating 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 and co-director 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.
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 enabling considerations of children’s experiences to transform moral theory; and Moral Creativity (Oxford 2005), an investigation of moral existence as something fundamentally poetic or creative.
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 a number of dissertations, 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 aesthetics and ethics titled Transensus.