Lawrence Kohlberg (October 25, 1927 - January 19, 1987) was born in Bronxville, New York. He served as a professor at the University of Chicago as well as Harvard University. He is famous for his work in moral education, reasoning, development. Being a close follower of Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg's work reflects and perhaps even extends his predecessor's work. This work is further extended and modified by such scholars like Carol Gilligan.

Lawrence Kohlberg grew up in a wealthy family and attended Phillips Academy, a private and renowned high school. During World War II following his high school education he enlisted and became an engineer on carrier ship. On that ship he and his shipmates decided to aid Jews escaping Europe to Palestine. They accomplished this by smuggling them in banana crates that were secretly beds, fooling government inspectors that formed the British blockade to the region.

After his service in the war he applied to the University of Chicago in 1948. He tested extremely high on his entrance, and received his bachelor's degree in psychology in just one year. Kohlberg stayed in the University of Chicago for his graduate work, becoming facsinated with children's moral reasoning and the earlier works of Jean Piaget and others. He wrote his doctoral dissertation there in 1958, outlining what is now his stages of moral development.

Kohlberg then taught in 1962 at the University of Chicago in the Committee on Human Development, further extending his time with academia. In 1968, being 40 years old and married with two children, he became a professor of education and social psychology at Harvard University. This is also the year he befriended Carol Gilligan, a colleague and critic of his moral development stage theory.

During a visit to Israel in 1969, Kohlberg journeyed to a kibbutz and was shocked to discover how much more the youths' moral development had progressed compared to those who were not part of kibbutzim. Jarred by what he saw, he decided to rethink his current research and start by beginning a new school called the Cluster School within Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. The Cluster School ran as a 'just community' where students had a basic and trustworthy relationship with one another, using democracy to make all the school's decisions. Armed with this model he started similar 'just communities' in other schools and even one in a prision.

Kohlberg contracted a tropical disease in 1971 while doing cross-cultural work in Belize. As a result, he struggled with depression and physical pain for the following 16 years. On January 19th he got a day's leave from the hospital he was being treated at, drove to the coast, and committed suicide by drowning himself in the Atlantic Ocean. He was 59 years old. To this day Kohlberg is continued by his peers, friends, colleagues and students.

Read Kohlberg's stages of moral development.