John M. Staudenmaier, sj

    Most of the time, I live and work in Detroit, Michigan, about two miles inside the city limits, on the campus of The University of Detroit Mercy (UDM). Since 2005 I have been the Assistant to the President for Mission & Identity.  A paragraph from President Stockhausen’s announcement of the new office gives a good hint of the sorts of work I do. 

The goal of the Office of Mission and Identity is to see that reflection upon mission and dialogue around mission-related topics becomes part of the ordinary work and decision-making of the University. 

In January 2007 the job expanded a bit; I now sit on the President's Council (i.e., President, Vice Presidents, Executive Assistant to the President, myself) for regular budget/policy/strategy meetings; and attend board of trustees meetings as well.  More meeting time than before but interesting stuff. 

    In the other half of my work life I edit Technology and Culture, The International Quarterly of the Society for the History of Technology(T&C), cosponsored now by The University of Detroit Mercy, The Henry Ford, and The University of Michigan at Dearborn.  We mail about 2200 issues to libraries and individuals around the world and are available online as part of Project Muse at Johns Hopkins University Press. As editor, I am responsible for the overall intellectual and fiscal health of the journal.  I and T&C’s two associate editors assess the suitability of manuscripts, select referees (we like four per article) and edit approved manuscripts for rhetorical quality.  I work with Dave Lucsko, the managing editor on a regular basis, attending to the flow of manuscripts, referee reports, and other issues as they arise.  The good news for me is that after fifteen years as editor my successor has been named, Dr. Suzanne Moon, who has served as one of T&C's associate editors for the past four years.  Suzanne is now putting together the new editorial team at her host institution, The University of Oklahoma.  Little by little over the next five or six months, most of the heavy lifting will move from Detroit to Norman, OK.  Suzanne will make a great editor. 

    For the first twenty years of my time at UDM I taught as a member of the history faculty: (the university’s required engineering ethics course, a survey of U.S. technological style, and upper division seminars--”Detroit, The City”; “Individualism and Community in the United States”; “Interpretations of Capitalism”; “Advertising in America”).  During those years I also held visiting appointments at MIT's Science, Technology and Society Program (4 times), a fellowship at the MIT Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, and as Gasson Professor at Boston College (2 years).  From August 2001 until June 2004, I served as Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at UDM.  In 2004-05 I was Visiting Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Santa Clara University.  When I returned to Detroit in July of 2005 I began my current job as Assistant to the President for Mission & Identity. 

    I believe deeply in the missions of UDM and of T&C.  The university’s commitment to an exceptionally diverse student body, to the city, to its Catholic intellectual identity and to academic integrity makes it an immensely interesting subculture, one in which I am proud to live and work.  The journal’s commitment to interrogating the many technologies by which resourceful people inscribe their ideologies and goals on the world and in the historical record, a commitment to substantive interpretation of human technological activity, strikes me as vitally important, the more so given the near totemic status of the word “Technology” when the word is used as a symbol for inevitable Western progress. 

    Both these commitments influence the other dimensions of my professional life. I  lecture and offer workshops in this country and overseas, sometimes in the academy, sometimes for professional organizations, and sometimes with Church related groups.  I consult with museums about exhibits, with television producers about historical programs, with science and technology reporters about articles in process.  I serve on a few boards.  When I find the time, I write for publication in academic and public venues, sometimes interpreting the evolving historiography of my professional field, sometimes asking how people use technologies in their search for integrity and intimacy even as they are influenced by those same technologies.  A sampler of titles suggests the kinds of questions that attract my attention.: Technology’s Storytellers: Reweaving the Human Fabric (MIT Press 1985); “The Politics and Ethics of Engineering”; “Relating to Technologies as Moral Adults”; “Denying the Holy Dark: The Enlightenment and the European Mystical Tradition”; “Rationality vs Contingency in the History of Technology.” 

    I also do pastoral work as a Jesuit priest.  And, on the personal side, I take time for gardening and poetry (mostly reading, occasionally writing), for family and friends, and for contemplation in the Jesuit tradition.

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