Professor Mark McKenna named founding director of ND Technology Ethics Center

Mark McKenna, John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and director of the Law School’s Program on Intellectual Property and Technology Law, has been named the founding director of the University of Notre Dame’s Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC). Since the Center was established in September 2019, McKenna has been serving as the acting director. 

ND-TEC has a three-part mission to support multidisciplinary research on normative and applied questions related to the impact of technology on humanity, to assist in the development of curriculum that will engage Notre Dame students at all levels on issues of technology ethics, and to engage with thought leaders in industry, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies in order to develop technology policy.

In discussing his role, McKenna said, “Technology can radically improve our quality of life, but it can also do significant harm. At ND-TEC, I think we have an exciting opportunity to bring people together across disciplines to address some of the most important ethical issues of our time.”

“Mark has been integrally involved with the Center since its beginning and has both a broad and deep understanding of its distinctive mission,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame. “As director, Mark will bring expertise, energy, and a compelling vision to the Center.  I am most grateful to Mark for agreeing to serve as the inaugural director.”  

McKenna aims to develop the Center as a global leader in technology ethics and as a place that produces world-class research with a distinctive voice that keeps human values at the forefront. To do so, ND-TEC welcomed Kirsten Martin as the first William P. and Hazel B. White Center Professor of Technology Ethics at Notre Dame. The Center also established a partnership with the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) to host three joint faculty fellows for the 2020-2021 school year to conduct scholarship under the NDIAS theme, “Nature of Trust.”

“I'm really looking forward to continuing collaborations with colleagues to highlight the critical role of ethics in orienting technological development toward the goal of human flourishing,” said McKenna. “At the Center, we hope to be a convener of conversations among different constituencies with the purpose of making tangible progress on difficult technology-ethics problems.”

McKenna joined the Notre Dame faculty as an associate professor in 2008. An intellectual property and privacy scholar, his current research focuses on the ways different regulatory regimes related to intellectual property and technology interact with one another with the effect of undermining the policy goals of particular regimes considered in isolation. Additionally, McKenna is interested in the ways people’s beliefs about possible legal regulation are shaped by assumptions framed by existing technology.

ND-TEC was formed as a result of interest and leadership from Sarah Mustillo, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and Provost Thomas G. Burish.

Originally published by Brandi Wampler at techethics.nd.edu on June 30, 2020.