Linda M. Wagener
Associate Dean of the School of Psychology and
Associate Professor of Psychology
Helping One Another to Flourish
“I am very interested in understanding the theological and psychological underpinnings of flourishing,” says Linda Wagener, associate dean for Fuller’s School of Psychology. “Across the lifespan, what are the characteristics of individuals, families, communities, and societies that support the development of human potential as God intended?”
Wagener teaches courses on clinical work with youth, and as co-director for the Center for Research and Child and Adolescent Development at Fuller, she gives leadership to research projects on positive youth development. But she is committed to the study of human flourishing across all ages—and across all dimensions as well, collaborating in this work with School of Theology Professor Richard Beaton.
“One of the most interesting challenges is to better understand the role of suffering and adversity,” she notes. “Since human life is never without challenges and even grief, we can’t think of flourishing as simply happiness or achievement. God calls us to love him and care for one another, so ultimately flourishing requires that we be invested in the well-being of others. How can we best live with one another,” Wagener asks, “in ways that promote not only our own humanity but also that of those with whom we live, work, and worship?”
Wagener explored this question as she traveled last summer through Bosnia, Jordan, and Turkey, interviewing young people about their responses to the radical political, economic, and social traumas they were encountering in their cultures. “Their thoughtful responses to moral and relational issues,” says Wagener, “was a hopeful reminder that humans were created by God in ways that lead to resiliency and thriving even under desperate circumstances.”