Robert Coles is a child psychiatrist who studies the way children grow up in a variety of social and cultural situations.
Coles has studied school desegregation, the children of migrant farmworkers and sharecroppers, and the effects of school busing on children. More recently, he has examined the manner in which racial, religious, social, and ideological conflicts shape the moral and political thinking of children. His work has taken him to rural and urban locales in South and North America, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua, and Poland. Coles’ books include the five-volume Children of Crisis (1967-78), The Moral Life of Children (1986), The Political Life of Children (1986), The Spiritual Life of Children (1990), and The Moral Intelligence of Children: How to Raise a Moral Child (1996), TheSecular Mind (2001), and Children of Crisis (2003).
A professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard University’s Medical School, Coles is also the James Agee Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University. He is a founding member of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, where he is a continuing visiting professor in the Department of History.
Coles received an A.B. (1950) from Harvard University and an M.D. (1954) from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.