Michael L Penn Professor of Psychology



Ph.D., Temple University, Clinical Psychology, 1991

Clinical Intern, Temple University School of Medicine,  1990-91

B.A., University of Pennsylvania, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1986


Dr. Michael Penn is a Professor of Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College and is trained in the fields of clinical and experimental psychopathology.  His research interests and publications explore trauma related disorders, the application of psychological research and theory to human rights, the interpenetration of psychology and philosophy, and the relationship between culture and mental health.  Professor Penn is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has lived and lectured widely around the world. For more than a decade, he served as a member of the faculty for the UN Leader’s Programme, which trains Director-level United Nations officers.  Professor Penn has also supported the Federal University of Brazil's program in peace studies, has been a consultant on the advancement of women for Great Britain's Secretariat for the Commonwealth of Nations, and has assisted with the government of Greenland's initiative designed to reduce gender-based violence. In addition to numerous academic papers and chapters, he is the author, co-author or editor of four books, including: Our Common Humanity: Reflections on the Reclamation of the Human Spirit (2021); Overcoming Violence against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem (2003); Moral Trauma: An Analysis of Akrasia and Mental Health (2016); and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Rights and Human Dignity (2020).
From 1998-2000 Professor Penn lived in Switzerland where he helped to design the UN-funded, “Education for Peace Project” that helped thousands of children and youth and their families in Bosnia-Herzegovina overcome the effects of genocide. In 2004 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Administration by Governor Edward Rendell, and he currently serves as a member of the Permanent Board of the Tahirih Justice Center which provides legal and clinical services to women and girls who are fleeing gender-based violence and persecution. Professor Penn was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1986, is a former Ford Foundation/National Academy of Sciences Fellow, a former Aspen Institute Wye Faculty Forum Fellow, is the recipient of several honors for teaching and community service, and was honored with the John Russwurm Award for Scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania.



Penn, M. L. (2021). Our Common Humanity: Reflections on the Reclamation of the Human Spirit. Oxford, UK: George Ronald.

Mahmoudi, H. & Penn, M.L. (2020) (Eds.). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Dignity and Human Rights. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.

Nasseri, A. & Penn, M.L. (2015). Moral Trauma: An Analysis of Akrasia and Mental Health. Saarbrücken: Academic Publishing.

Penn, M.L. & Nardos, R. (2003). Overcoming Violence Against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Penn, M.L. (1992). World View, Hopelessness and Depression Among Adolescents and Young Adults. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Press.


Zongpu, L. & Penn, M. L. (2023). An empirical study of the enduring impact of historical trauma in 2020. Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education. Vol 13, Issue 06.

Penn, M.L. (2021). Values and human rights: Implications of an emerging discourse on virtue ethics. In H. Mahmoudi, A. Brysk, & K. Seaman (Eds). The Changing Ethos of Human Rights. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 14-34.


Penn, M. L. (2020). Why constructive resilience? Journal of Bahá’í Studies, Special Edition on Constructive Resilience, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 25-36, with guest editor Michael Karlberg.


Penn, M.L., Groff, M., & Kourosh, N. (2020). Cultivating our common humanity: Reflections on freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In N. Rubin & R.L. Flores (Eds). The Cambridge Handbook of Human Rights, pp. 197-211. Cambridge University Press.


Penn, M.L. & Nguyen, T. (2020). Promoting human rights and human dignity in an axial age. In H. Mahmoudi & M. Penn (Eds). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Dignity and Human Rights, pp. 49-60. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.


Haslip, M. & Penn, M.L. (2020). Cultivating human rights by nurturing altruism and a life of service: Integrating UN Sustainable Development Goals into school curricula. In H. Mahmoudi & M. Penn (Eds). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Dignity and Human Rights, pp. 151-174. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.


Penn, M.L. (2020). Afterword. In H. Mahmoudi & M. Penn (Eds). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Human Dignity and Human Rights, pp. 175-178. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing.


Penn, M.L. (July, 2020). The light was in the darkness: Reflections on the growth that hides in the pain of suffering. Bahá’í World.


Penn, M. L. (Winter 2018/2019). On Hopelessness and Hope: A Conversation with Deep Psychologist Michael Penn. An interview conducted by Richard Whittaker and Preeta Bansal in Parabola: The Search for Meaning, Vol. 43.


Penn, M.L. (2015). Mind and Mental Health: A Baha’i-Inspired Perspective. Journal of Baha’i Studies, 25, pp. 25-50.


Washington, E., & Penn, M.L. (2014). Painting with Light: The Art of Bunch Washington. Phillips Museum of Art.


Hall, A. H., Gow, K. M., & Penn, M. L. (2011). Do chronic moral emotions mediate between value congruence and psychological health in university students? In K. M. Gow & M. J. Celinski (Eds.), Wayfinding through life’s challenges: Coping and survival. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.


Hall, A. H., Gow, K. M., Penn, M. L., & Jayawickreme, E. (2011). Strength and weakness of character: Psychological health and resilience. In M. J. Celinski & K. M. Gow (Eds.), Continuity versus creative response to challenge: The primacy of resilience and resourcefulness in life and therapy. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.


Landau, S., Owen, S., & Penn, M.L. (2011). Diagnosis of sexual abuse among Haitian physicians: An exploratory study. Proceedings of the 20th World Congress for Sexual Health, June 12-16, 2011. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8.


Penn, M.L. & Malik, A. (2010). The Protection and Development of the Human Spirit: An Expanded Focus for Human Rights Discourse. Human Rights Quarterly, 32, 666-690.


Penn, M.L. (2010). A Proteção e o Desenvolvimento do Espirito Humano: Uma Perspectiva mais Ampla para o Discurso dos Estudos para a Paz e os Direitos Humanos. In M. Jalali Rabbani (ed.) Estudos para a Paz e Resolucao de Conflitos. Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Brazil.


Penn, M. L. & Witkin, D. (2008). Pathognomic versus developmentally appropriate self-focus during adolescence: Theoretical concerns and clinical applications. In Diessner & Tiegs (Eds.), Sources: Notable selections in human development, (Classic Edition.). Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 190-196.


Penn, M.L. & Clarke, P.J. (2008). Art. Culture & Pediatric Mental and Behavioral Health. In B. Koan (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology.


Penn, M.L. & Pharaon, A. (2007). Biological, Psychological and Social Factors in the Pathogenesis of Psychopathy. In G. Walker (ed.) The Science of Morality, G. Walker (Ed.), pp. 105-116. London: Royal College of Physicians


Penn, M.L. & Radpour, M.K. (2006). Clinical Practice and the Dynamics of Relational Authenticity. Turkish Journal of Psychiatry, 17, p. 152.


Penn, M.L. (2005). Inner Enlightenment, Moral Refinement and Justice: Antidotes to Domestic Violence. Bahá’í World, 2003-2004 (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre).


Penn, M.L. (2005). Reflections on Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. World Order.


Penn, M. L. & Wilson, L. (2003). Mind, Medicine and Metaphysics: Reflections on the Reclamation of the Human Spirit. American Journal of Psychotherapy 57, 18-31.


Penn, M.L. (Winter, 2001). Oedipus Revisited. World Order, 32, 11-18.


Penn, M. L. (2001). Reflections on Human Rights, Moral Development and the Eradication of Gender-Based Violence. In Tahirih Danesh (Ed.), Bahá’í-Inspired Perspectives on Human Rights. (Victoria, CA: Juxta Publications).


Penn, M.L. (Spring, 2001). Eradicating Gender-Based Violence: Successes and Challenges. World Order, 32, No. 3, 33-54.


Penn, M.L. & Coverdale, C. (1996). Transracial Adoption: A Human Rights Perspective. Journal of Black Psychology, 22, 232-237.


Penn, M.L., & Witkin, D. (1994). Pathognomic Versus Developmentally Appropriate Self Focus During Adolescence: Theoretical Concerns and Clinical Implications. Psychotherapy, 31, 368-374.


Penn, M.L. (1994). Toward A Global World Community: The Role of Black Psychologists. Journal of Black Psychology, 20, 398-417.


Penn, M.L., Phillips, L., & Gaines, S.O. (1993). On the Desirability of Own-Group Preference [Feature Article]. Journal of Black Psychology, 19, 303-321.


Phillips, L., Penn, M.L., & Gaines, S.O. (1993). A Hermeneutic Rejoinder to Our Critics and Ourselves. Journal of Black Psychology, 19, 350-357.