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James F. Kirkley, Ph.D.

James Kirkley, Ph.D.

Contact Information 
Phone: 919-546-8399
Office: Leonard Hall Room 201


Division Head, Social Sciences, Religious Studies and the Arts 
Associate Professor, Religion and Ethics 
Faculty Athletic Representative 


Ph.D. - Duke University, Durham, N.C. 1989
Major: Christian Theology and Ethics
Minors: Public Policy/American Christianity

Master of Divinity - Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, 1977
Magna Cum Laude/ Phi Alpha Chi (Theological Honor Society)

Bachelor of Science - Bucknell University, 1973
Major: Business Administration Delta Mu Delta (National Business Honor Society)

Courses Offered

Dr. Kirkley teaches classes in both Religion and Ethics at Shaw including the ethics classes in the General Educational core.

His primary teaching focus has been in Intro to Religion, History of Christianity, Religion in America, and Christian Ethics.

Research Interests

Tying into the increased awareness of the role of religion in the public sphere, Dr. Kirkley is involved with research and writing on the interplay of faith and politics in our modern world. He believes that not only is it organized religion that impacts our political and ethical positions, but it is the underlying faith positions that every individual has, even when they might not acknowledge them, that influence their stances on political and ethical issues.

Publications and Presentations:

  • “How can we know, and trust, that God is guiding us in our lives?” (Address originally presented to the Men’s Fellowship of Mercy Presbyterian Church, Forest, Virginia, September 2017.)
  • "Ethics from a Front Office Perspective" (Panel Discussion: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction: Conference on Accountability in Education, February, 2004)
  • "A Response to Dr. Ashmore" (Respondent at Shaw Divinity School Colloquium, 2001)
  • "From John Brown to Eric Rudolph: Lethal Force on Behalf of the Defenseless" (Paper presented to the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, March 6, 1999, Irving, Texas)
  • "Hobbes or Locke" (Op Ed Article, Durham Herald Sun, September 13, 1998)
  • Ethics and Values Reader (Edited along with departmental faculty; Copley Custom Publishing Group, Acton, Massachusetts: 1998)
  • "The Inescapability of Myth"  (Moral Education in a Diverse Society Conference; Duke University, February 20, 1998)
  • "Religion and Moral Education in a Diverse Society" (Session Chair: Moral Education in a Diverse Society Conference, Duke University, February 21, 1998)
  • "A Community Dialogue: Liberating Visions: African-American Dreams for America" (Moderator: Sponsored by the Shaw University Ethics and Values Program through a grant by the North Carolina Humanities Council; January-March, 1995)
  • "To Sue or Not to Sue; Christians and the Civil Courts." (AAR SE Region, March 1990)

Personal Interests,Family and Hobbies:

Dr. Kirkley is married and the father of four children and grandfather to six. In his spare time he enjoys both watching and playing sports, especially lacrosse, and the outdoors.