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Robert McGinn

Robert McGinn

PhD, Stanford, Philosophy and Humanities (1970)
MS, Stanford, Mathematics (1965)
BS, Stevens Institute of Technology, Unified Science and Engineering (1963)


(650) 725-0117

Robert McGinn is Professor (Teaching) of Management Science and Engineering, and of Science, Technology, and Society (STS). He received a B.S. in Unified Science and Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, a M.S. in mathematics at Stanford, and a Ph.D. in philosophy and humanities, also at Stanford. Apart from a year at Bell Laboratories in 1978-79, McGinn has been at Stanford since 1971.

McGinn's general research area is technology and society, a field devoted to study of social, cultural, ethical, and policy issues raised by contemporary developments in science and technology. His specific research area is ethics, science, and technology, a specialty within applied ethics that is devoted to the study of ethical issues raised in contemporary engineering and science, and of ethical issues raised by the diffusion of technical innovations into society.

McGinn's publications include Science, Technology, and Society (Prentice-Hall, 1990), and articles in scholarly journals such as Professional Ethics; Technology and Culture; Science, Technology, and Human Values; Science and Engineering Ethics; and Nanoethics. His newest book, The Ethical Engineer: Contemporary Concepts and Cases, was published by Princeton University Press in February 2018.

From 1995 to 2011, Prof. McGinn served as director or co-director of Stanford's Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Program. He is a member of the STS Executive Board and served as an STS Faculty Fellow from 2014-2017. McGinn is a member of the School of Engineering's Undergraduate Council and coordinates the School of Engineering's Technology in Society (TiS) Requirement.

From 2004 to 2014, McGinn conducted research on ethical issues related to nanotechnology for the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), for which he served as Ethics Investigator. He was also Social and Ethical Issues Coordinator for the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF). From 2004-07, he conducted a large-scale study of the views of researchers working in nanotech laboratories at thirteen U.S. universities about ethical issues related to their work.

McGinn has received research grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Marshall Fund, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1996, he received the Stanford Tau Beta Pi Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In 1997, he received the Dinkelspiel Award for Exceptional Contributions to Undergraduate Education and the Perin Award for Undergraduate Engineering Education.