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Peter L. Benson

Peter L. Benson CEO, Search Institute


Ph.D., University of Denver
M.A., University of Denver
M.A., Yale University
B.A., Augustana College
Full Curriculum Vita

Selected Publications

  • Benson, P. L. (2009). Vision: Awakening your potential to create a better world. West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press.
  • Benson, P. L. (2008). Sparks: How parents can help ignite the hidden strengths of teenagers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Benson, P. L., Roehlkepartain, E. C., & Hong, K. L. (2008). Spiritual development special issue) New Directions for Youth Development, no. 118. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Benson, P.L. (2006) All kids are our kids: What communities must do to raise caring and responsible children and adolescents, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Roehlkepartain, E.C., King, P.E., Wagener, L.M., & Benson, P.L. (Eds.) (2005). Handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Research Interest

  • Positive Human Development


Dr. Peter L. Benson is president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Search Institute, the nation's leading action tank for helping communities "grow great kids." A leading authority on human development, community mobilization, and social change, he holds a doctorate and master's degree from the University of Denver as well as a master's degree from Yale University. He is also the principal investigator and co-director for Search Institute's new Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, which seeks to advance knowledge, practice, and international interest in this important, but underemphasized domain of human development.

Dr. Benson is the author or editor of more than a dozen books on child and adolescent development, including, most recently, Vision: Awakening Your Potential to Create a Better World, Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers, and The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. Among his many honors, Dr. Benson was the first visiting scholar at the William T. Grant Foundation and also received the William James Award for Career Contributions to the Psychology of Religion from the American Psychological Association.