Michael J. Thate, Ph.D.

Associate Research Scholar/Lecturer
Office Phone
Engineering Quadrangle , Room H109, Princeton, NJ 08544 USA

Michael J. Thate, Ph.D. is as an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University’s Faith & Work Initiative and the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education.

Michael has held visiting fellowships and lectureships at Yale Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions, and the Département de Philosophie at l’École normale supérieure, Paris. He was a recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt award, spending three years at Universität Tübingen in the Institute für antikes Judentum und hellenistische Religionsgeschichte.  He received his B.A. at Northwestern University, St. Paul; M.Div., and M.A. at Trinity International University; and his Ph.D. at Durham University.

Michael’s academic interests and focus are informed and complemented by his prior business experience where he counseled corporate clients on matters relating to brand equity, communication strategy, and corporate trust.

He is the author of two monographs. The first, Remembrance of Things Past? (Mohr Siebeck 2013), compares the “historical Jesus” genre that emerged from the “new science” of history in nineteenth and twentieth century European thought with recent trends in social memory theory. The second, The Godman and the Sea (UPenn Press, 2019), reads varying representations of the sea in antiquity, Judaism, and early Christianity through the rubrics of desolation and trauma. Michael has edited four volumes and written several articles on subjects ranging from suicide, political theology, imaginaries of participation, labor, time and money, the second space age, the attention economy, design thinking, and business ethics, which attempt to track genealogies of thought and set into comparison the assemblages of ethical questions.

Current works include a volume on “smell” and moral reasoning—specifically as it relates to social identity, difference, and “abnormal” experiences (U. Penn Press) and a second that engages the so-called attention economy. He is also co-editing a volume on the history of corporate responses to racial unrest and another on the future of work.

In addition to co-teaching the “Engineering and Ethics” course at Princeton University with Dr David Miller, Michael serves on the racial equity task force at the Keller Center for Innovation.  

His research interests and topics of student supervision include:

  • Philosophies of labor
  • The ethical philosophy of “Reverence for Life”
  • Attention and value
  • Philosophy of religion and “abnormal” experience
  • Technology and Responsibility