Core faculty

Joy Rohde

Associate Professor of Public Policy; Associate Professor of History (by courtesy)

Joy Rohde is an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She is a historian who works at the intersection of science and technology studies, U.S. intellectual and political history, and the history of U.S. foreign relations.

Joy is interested broadly in the relationship between science, technology, and state power. Her first book, Armed with Expertise: The Militarization of American Social Research during the Cold War (Cornell, 2013), investigates the Cold War origins and contemporary consequences of the Pentagon’s social research contracting system.

Joy’s current book project, Machines of Government: Computers, Social Science, and American Democracy since 1945, historicizes contemporary efforts to understand and manage society and politics via information technologies by examining cybernetic, computational, and artificial intelligence approaches to American foreign and national security policy between the 1960s and 1980s. Following Pentagon and State Department funded projects that simulated international relations with machines, claimed to predict the geopolitical future via data patterns, and modelled Soviet minds with AI, the book shows that the longstanding quest to depoliticize knowledge and government through technology has been an ambivalent, but consequential, political and epistemic project. It also shows how, despite repeated failures, national security agencies have increasingly tied national security to advances in information technologies.

At Michigan, Joy directs the Science, Technology, and Society Program and is a faculty affiliate of the Department of History and the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program.

In 2020-21, Joy was a Member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, with support provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Her work has also been supported by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and the Jefferson Scholars Foundation National Fellow program.  

Educational background

  • PhD in history and sociology of science, University of Pennsylvania
  • MA in history and sociology of science, University of Pennsylvania
  • BA in anthropology, University of Chicago

Recent publications

  • “War.” In Philippe Fontaine and Jefferson Pooley, eds., Redrawing the Boundaries of the Social Sciences: How Social Problems Became Economic Problems in the Postwar U.S., Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  • “Pax Technologica: Computers, International Affairs, and Human Reason in the Cold War.” Isis 108.4 (December 2017): 792-813.
  • Social Science and Foreign Affairs.” In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, ed. Jon Butler (New York: Oxford University Press, November 2015). DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.154.