Robert Atkinson

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Robert Atkinson, PhD, award-winning author, educator, and developmental psychologist, is a 2020 Gold Nautilus Book Award winner as co-editor of Our Moment of Choice: Evolutionary Visions and Hope for the Future, a 2023 Silver Nautilus Book Award winner for A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family, and a 2017 Silver Nautilus Book Award winner for The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness.

He is also the author or co-editor of nine other books including, Year of Living Deeply: A Memoir of 1969 (2019), Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story (2012), The Life Story Interview (1998) and The Gift of Stories: Practical Applications of Autobiography, Life Stories, and Personal Mythmaking  (1995). He is an internationally recognized authority on life story interviewing, a pioneer in the techniques of personal myth making and soul making, and founder of  StoryCommons. His books on life storytelling have been translated into Japanese, Italian, and Romanian and are widely used in personal growth and life review settings.

The Story of Our Time was called “…a must read by the widest of global audiences…” by Michael Bernard Beckwith, and Mystic Journey “an exquisite exploration of the spiritual craft of soul-making” by Jean Houston. Of his memoir, Year of Living Deeply, Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, said it was “profound, friendly, inspiring, and nostalgic… I loved it.” He also assisted Babatunde Olatunji with his autobiography, The Beat of My Drum (2005), of which Pete Seeger said, “It is good to have this book, with his words, to tell his story more completely.”  

He received his B.A. in philosophy and American Studies from Southampton College of Long Island University, and an M.A. in American Folk Culture from SUNY, Cooperstown. Then his journeys took him to the Hudson River and a series of adventures, including sailing on the maiden voyage of the Clearwater with Pete Seeger and his singing crew; attending the Woodstock music festival; living in a cabin in the woods near the Hudson River; visiting Arlo Guthrie at his farm in the Berkshires; having a synchronistic and fateful meeting with Joseph Campbell that became a mentoring relationship; being given a cell in a Franciscan monastery as a guest; and, returning to teach a course at Southampton College, all of which frame his memoir, Year of Living Deeply.

Following the publication of his first book – Songs of the Open Road: The Poetry of Folk Rock and the Journey of the Hero (1974, out of print, but still around somewhere), he completed his second master’s at the University of New Hampshire in Counseling, and his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in cross-cultural human development. He then did a post-doctoral research fellowship in adolescent development, which resulted in the publication of The Teenage World (1987), with his University of Chicago mentors.

He is professor emeritus of cross-cultural human development and religious studies at the University of Southern Maine, where he was the first Diversity Scholar in the College of Education and Human Development (2002-2004) and a co-founding faculty of the Russell Scholars Program and the Religious Studies minor. He also taught summer courses sailing the Maine coast on a traditional schooner. In the fall of 2002, he was a faculty member on the Semester at Sea around the world voyage with 30 other faculty and 600 undergraduates and has since sailed on Semester at Sea’s Enrichment Voyages as a workshop leader.

He is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders Circle, a project of the Source of Synergy Foundation, and in 2019 founded One Planet Peace