Margarita Ann Mooney Ph.D.

Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology
Email Address:
Office Location: 
Wallace Hall 322

Ph.D. in Sociology, Princeton University. 2005. 
M.A. in Sociology, Princeton University. 2000.
B.A. in Psychology, Yale University. 1995.

I am a scholar, author, educator and mentor with interests in happiness, virtue and the common good. I teach courses on research methods for studying religion, philosophy of social science, religion and social theory, religion and immigration, intentional communities and religion and resilience. I’m currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Living a Broken Life, Beautifully that explores the religious lives of young adults who have experienced traumatic life events.

After earning my B.A. in Psychology from Yale University, I conducted fieldwork on the re-integration into civilian life of ex-combatants in Central America in the mid-1990s. Seeing how communities recovered more quickly from the devastating civil wars because they had strong leadership and numerous community organizations led me to earn my M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University. My book Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora (University of California Press, 2009) demonstrated how religious communities support the successful adaptation of Haitian immigrants in the U.S., Canada and France. 

After spending six years on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in July 2013, I joined the Department of Sociology at Yale University as an Associate Research Scientist. As part of a funded research grant from the John Templeton Foundation, I interviewed young adults in 10 different states across the U.S. who have undergone traumatic life events. Through their personal narratives, I explore the importance of relationships and communities to fostering human flourishing following traumatic events. I am interested in the types of cultural narratives and social structures that empower people who suffer to nonetheless to realize their freedom in accord with human dignity. I am also interested in greater inter-disciplinary work between sociology, philosophy and theology. Since 2016, I have been an Associate Professor in the Department of Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. 

In 2016, I founded Scala Foundation, whose mission is to promote classical liberal arts education and support research on authentic human flourishing. Although core questions about human existence were part of a classical education, today many students struggle to connect their classroom experiences to ultimate concerns such as questions of moral truth, the common good, and virtue. Gaining wisdom, deepening faith, developing virtues, and building friendships have been separated from acquiring knowledge. Without a passion for truth and an intimate community of peers, intellectual pursuits may not lead to flourishing lives and thriving communities. In Scala’s activities, faculty model how a challenging learning environment can take place in an atmosphere of hospitality and friendship. Faculty also help students explore the philosophical assumptions behind what they are learning. Scala’s activities promote virtues such as thoroughness, intellectual courage, and creative thinking.

Publications List: 

Selected Publications


Margarita A. Mooney. Living a Broken Life, Beautifully. Book manuscript in progress.

Margarita A. Mooney. Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2009. Awards: Honorable Mention, First Book Award, World Christianity Group of the American Academic of Religion.


Margarita A. Mooney. “Human Agency and Mental Illness.” Journal of Critical Realism. Volume 15 (4) 2016: 376-390 DOI:

Nicolette Manglos-Weber, Margarita A. Mooney, Kenneth Bollen and Micah Roos. “Relationships with God among Young Adults.” First published online March 17, 2016. (Print publication forthcoming) Sociology of Religion. DOI: 10.1093/socrel/srw012

Margarita Mooney. “Narratives, Religion and Traumatic Life Events Among Young Adults.” Social Thought and Research, Volume 33 (2015), pp. 45-82. DOI:10.17161/STR.1808.18445. 

Stephanie Potochnick and Margarita A. Mooney. “The Decade of Immigrant Dispersion and Growth: A Cohort Analysis of Children of Immigrants‘ Educational Experiences 1990-2002”. International Migration Review Volume 9 (4) 2014: 1001-1041. DOI: 10.1111/imre.12111

Margarita Mooney. “Virtues and Human Personhood in the Social Sciences.” Pp. 21-44 in The Palgrave Handbook of Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity: Formulating a Field of Study. Vincent Jeffries, editor. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014.

Margarita Mooney, Lin Wang, Jason Freeman and Matt Bradshaw. “Does Believing or Belonging have a Greater Protective Effect on Stressful Life Events Among Young Adults?” Pp. 289-310 in Religion and Inequality, Lisa Keister and Darren Sherkat (editors), Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Margarita Mooney and Nicolette Manglos-Weber. “Prayer and Liturgy as Constitutive-Ends Practices in Black Immigrant Communities.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior. Volume 44(4), December 2014: 459-480.