Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks–we will also find our path of authentic service in the world.”
Parker J. Palmer
He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as thirteen honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press.
Palmer is the author of ten books—including several award-winning titles—that have sold nearly two million copies and been translated into ten languages: On the Brink of Everything, Healing the Heart of Democracy, The Heart of Higher Education (with Arthur Zajonc), The Courage to Teach, A Hidden Wholeness, Let Your Life Speak, The Active Life, To Know As We Are Known, The Company of Strangers, and The Promise of Paradox.
In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named Dr. Palmer one of the thirty “most influential senior leaders” in higher education and one of the ten key “agenda-setters” of the past decade.
Since 2002, the Accrediting Commission for Graduate Medical Education has given annual Parker J. Palmer “Courage to Teach” and “Courage to Lead” Awards to directors of exemplary medical residency programs.
In 2005, Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer, was published.
In 2010, Palmer was given the William Rainey Harper Award whose previous recipients include Margaret Mead, Elie Wiesel, Marshall McLuhan, and Paolo Freire.
In 2011, the Utne Reader named him one of 25 Visionaries on its annual list of “People Who are Changing the World.”
In 2017, the Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C., gave Palmer its annual Contemplative Voices Award, “created to honor those individuals who have made significant contributions to contemplative understanding, living and leadership and whose witness helps others live from the divine wellspring of compassion, strength, and authentic vision.”
In 2021, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Freedom of Spirit Fund, which “honors exemplary individuals and institutions embodying that inner freedom that is the energizing source of human courage, creativity, and love in the world.”
A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), Parker Palmer and his wife, Sharon Palmer, live in Madison, Wisconsin.
I want my inner truth to be the plumb line for the choices I make about my life – about the work that I do and how I do it, about the relationships I enter into and how I conduct them.
Parker J. Palmer
Parker Palmer, Courtney Martin, and Krista Tippett come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change — taped in a live conversation at PopTech: Rebellion in October 2014.