Portrait: Étienne Brown

By: Alexis Cutchin 

Please join the College of Humanities and the Arts in welcoming Dr. Etienne Brown to the Philosophy Department. Etienne received his M.A. in Sociology from the University of Ottawa and completed his Ph.D. at Sorbonne University in Paris, where he also taught philosophy. Subsequently, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford and the Université de Montreal.  

Etienne’s general research interests are within the philosophy of technology, political philosophy, and ethics, with a current focus on political epistemology and the ethics of online interaction. “My research focuses on the way social media is transforming democracy, and I look forward to contributing to interdisciplinary initiatives on this subject within the College of Humanities and the Arts such as the Deep Humanities Series,” Etienne explains. These research interests coincide well with the two GE courses Etienne is teaching this fall: Science, Technology, and Human Values, and Computer Ethics and Society. 

Originally from Quebec, Etienne believes that San José State offers the perfect combination of familiarity and the unknown: “I have decided to come here because working at SJSU strikes the right balance between feeling close to home and beginning a new adventure!” Etienne feels familiar with SJSU’s pedagogical approach but is new to the Bay Area; however, he is up for the challenge. “I grew up in Quebec, you can definitely hear that when I speak, and I feel the most at ease in the North American educational context, where student participation in the classroom is strongly valued. At the same time, building a new life in NorCal is exciting. It will take me years—or possibly decades—to discover the region and the state. For me, this is very reassuring because it means that I will never be bored,” Etienne says.  

So far, Etienne is already enjoying the scenery San José has to offer. Recalling his first visit to SJSU, he says, “It was raining heavily during my campus interview this past February, so my first impression was that the campus is sunnier and greener then I remembered! The landscaping is quite stunning.”

Etienne is happy with his decision to join SJSU. “On the human level, I believe that SJSU lives up to its reputation as one of the most diverse universities in the country. Not only do students come from various backgrounds, but the employees who occupy leadership positions belong to different cultural communities. This is something of which SJSU can be proud.”

Etienne is optimistic about his future and what he can accomplish here. I work in the philosophy of technology and I am convinced that SJSU can rapidly become a leader in the reflection on the ethics of emerging information technologies. If I can contribute to the creation of an intellectual space where scholars, students, citizens, and people working in the tech industry have the opportunity to address pressing ethical and political issues together, I will be very fulfilled as a researcher.”