Jonson Miller, PhD

Associate Teaching Professor of History and Science, Technology, and Society; Drexel Center for Academic Excellence Teaching Fellow

Jonson Miller

Office: 5022 MacAlister
Phone: 215.895.0994


Curriculum Vitae: Download


  • BS, Geology, West Virginia University, 1998
  • MS, Geology, University of Wisconsin, 2000
  • PhD, Science and Technology in Society, Virginia Tech, 2008


I am an interdisciplinary scholar in the field of Science and Technology Studies. My broadest interest is in the nature of modernity, particularly the rationalization of life. By this, I mean the subordination of knowledge and social organization to a rational order. This is in contrast to, on the one hand, the ordering of life around the transcendent (at its simplest - God) and, on the other, historical/organic forms of identity and social organization. Technology has been one important tool in the exertion of the force of rationality and the breaking apart of historical/organic social orders.

In my PhD dissertation and my current book project, I examine the use of engineering and military education in the American South as part of political and economic conflicts within Virginia in particular and the South in general. As part of this, I identify a vision among engineers and education reformers to create a more rational social order for the South, one led by a new type of engineer-leader. 

I joined the Department of History & Politics in 2007. I have enjoyed teaching history in the graduate program in Science, Technology, and Society. I have served as a Drexel Center for Academic Excellence Teaching Fellow since 2010.

Five Favorite Books on Technology and Modernity:

  • Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (1918)
  • Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (1954)
  • René Guénon, East and West (1924)
  • Friedrich Georg Jünger, The Perfection of Technology (1949)
  • David Nye, America as Second Creation (2003)


  • International Network of Engineering Studies
  • Society for the History of Technology
  • Society for Social Studies of Science

Courses Taught

  • HIST 201: US History to 1815
  • HIST 202: US History from 1815 to 1900
  • HIST 203: US History since 1900
  • HIST 230: US Military History I
  • HIST 231: US Military History II
  • HIST 285: Technology in Historical Context
  • HIST 591: Themes in the History of Technology


  • Miller, Jonson.  "Pathways and Purposes of the 'French Tradition' of Engineering in Antebellum America: The Case of the Virginia Military Institute."  Engineering Studies 5.2 (2013): 117-136. 
  • Gary Lee Downey, Juan C. Lucena, Barbara Moskal, Thomas Bigley, Chris Hays, Brent Jesiek, Liam Kelly, Jane Lehr, Jonson Miller, Amy Nichols- Belo, Sharon Ruff, and Rosamond Parkhurst. “The Globally Competent Engineer: Working Effectively with People Who Define Problems Differently.” Journal of Engineering Education 95 (April 2006): 107-122
  • Gary Lee Downey, Juan C. Lucena, Barbara Moskal, Thomas Bigley, Chris Hays, Brent Jesiek, Liam Kelly, Jane Lehr, Jonson Miller, and Amy Nichols-Belo. “Engineering Cultures: Expanding the Engineering Method for Global Problem Solvers.” Proceedings of the 4th ASEE/AaeE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education, Sydney Australia, September 26-30, 2005.

    Book Reviews

  • Miller, Jonson.  Review of Alexander Dallas Bache: Building the American Nation through Science and Education in the Nineteenth Century.  Technology and Culture 54 (2013): 191-193.