Michael Rotolo

Michael Rotolo

Areas of Study

Religion, Morality, Meaning-making, Cognition, Identity, Theory


Michael Rotolo is a University Presidential Fellow and affiliate in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at Notre Dame. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he received an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary (2016) and a B.A. in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2013), where he minored in Social and Economic Justice. His research focuses on morality, values, religion, identity, and meaning-making, especially among American youth and young adults. He is interested in human motivation, personhood, and people's (often implicit) conceptions of "the good" and "the good life."

Michael’s dissertation seeks to understand how Americans develop their moral worldviews, drawing primarily on interview data with young people collected over the course of 10 years from adolescence to young adulthood (NSYR). From these interviews, he theorizes a scheme of moral orientations and uses it to illuminate the content and development of young Americans' religious views, political views, occupational aspirations, and conceptions of "the good life."

Michael’s first book, Religious Parenting: Transmitting Faith and Values in Contemporary America (Princeton University Press), coauthored with Christian Smith and Bridget Ritz, will be released later this year.

Michael is a lead researcher for the national Intergenerational Religious Transmission Project (IRTP) and a research assistant for the Global Religion Research Initiative (GRRI). He is the Project Director of the Engaging Young Adults Initiative, a Lilly-funded project conducted in collaboration with Sunnyside Presbyterian Church. He is part of Notre Dame's Leadership Advancing Socially Engaged Research (LASER) 2019-2020 cohort. He also works extensively with data from the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR).