Robert Stockman was raised in Granby, Connecticut by Harold Herman and Margery (Fothergill) Stockman, who worked as apple farmers. He initially majored in geology at Wesleyan University and later received a master's degree in planetary science from Brown University, with a particular interest in the geology of Mars. He was introduced to the Bahá'í Faith while an undergraduate student and converted at the age of twenty, on October 16, 1973. He has been an active Bahá'í since his conversion, and in 1979 participated in mass teachings in rural central Florida.
During his studies for his master's degree in geology, he developed an interest in the history of the Bahá'í community in Rhode Island which led to his researching the biography of Thornton Chase. This endeavor led to the publication of Baha'i Faith in America: Origins 1892–1900 followed by Baha'i Faith in America, The: Early Expansion, 1900–1912 Volume 2 before the ultimate publishing of Thornton Chase: First American Baha'i. Starting in 1989, he has worked for the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, based in Wilmette, Illinois, in various capacities. He is married to Mana Derakhshani.
Subsequent to earning his doctorate from Harvard Divinity School, Stockman began teaching at the DePaul University in Chicago prior to proceeding to his current position as a lecturer at Indiana University South Bend, where he teaches religious studies. He serves as director of the Wilmette Institute. He has served on the boards of the Bahá'í Encyclopedia project, the Association for Bahá'í Studies, and World Order magazine. He has lectured on Bahá'í topics across the world and is a frequent contributor to Bahá'í panels at the American Academy of Religion.