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Professor (Teaching) of Management Science and Engineering, Emeritus

Robert McGinn

Professor (Teaching) of Management Science and Engineering, Emeritus
Robert McGinn is Professor (Teaching) Emeritus of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E), and of Science, Technology, and Society (STS). He received a B.S. in Unified Science and Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in 1963, a M.S. in mathematics at Stanford in 1965, and a Ph.D. in philosophy and humanities, also at Stanford, in 1969. Apart from a year at Bell Laboratories in 1978-79, where he directed its Science and Society Program, McGinn was at Stanford from 1971 to 2019.

McGinn's general research area is technology and society, a field devoted to study of social, cultural, ethical, and policy issues raised by developments in science and technology. His specific research area is ethics, science, and technology, a specialty within applied ethics that explores ethical issues raised by developments in contemporary engineering and science, and ethical issues raised by the diffusion of technical innovations in 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 book, THE ETHICAL ENGINEER: Contemporary Concepts and Cases, was published by Princeton University Press in 2018.

From 1995 to 2011, Prof. McGinn served as director or co-director of Stanford's Science, Technology, and Society (STS) Program. He was a long-time member of the STS Executive Board and served as an STS Faculty Fellow from 2014-2017. For over two decades, McGinn was a member of the School of Engineering's Undergraduate Council and coordinated 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 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.

In April 2019, McGinn was appointed Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the School of Medicine at U.C. San Francisco. He is Lead Ethics Investigator and Coordinator for the Center for Cellular Construction.


PhD, Stanford, Philosophy and Humanities (1969)
MS, Stanford, Mathematics (1965)
BS, Stevens Institute of Technology, Unified Science and Engineering (1963)