2015-03-17, Updated 2017-12 The Minerva Initiative
The Minerva Initiative (American Dept of Defence (DoD)).
My original source of information, an American Dept of Defence (DoD) URL, no longer valid. (for the record – the old URL – – http://minerva.dtic.mil/overview.html)
But keep reading. Minerva was re-branded, it has a new website. From the old one:
The Minerva Initiative is a Department of Defense (DoD)-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense in 2008 focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.
The goal of the Minerva Initiative is to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S. The research program will:
- Leverage and focus the resources of the Nation’s top universities. …
(Canada: the group of “research” universities, which includes the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), is referred to as the “U15“, see:
When I see Lockheed Martin’s involvement at the U of S, and recall Canada’s “Defence Strategy” (“compatibility” with the U.S.) developed in the same time period, and other “integrations”, I think it possible that the Minerva Initiative is known in the U15, not only in American universities. A youtube below captured the fact that a university in the UK was also a recipient of Minerva funding.
2014-06-12 Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown, The Guardian (The Minerva Research Initiative, DoD funding of research in the Social Sciences at Universities)
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I was very alarmed by the Minerva Initiative.
In March 2015 there wasn’t much information or awareness of it, adding to the alarm.
There’s more info available now (2017). AND I see (below, “Controversy“) that some people in the U.S. rose in challenge to it. Good on them!
In 2008, the project was provided $50 million by the United States Department of Defense to fund research on five separate themes. . . .
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates commissioned the Minerva Initiative under the vision of “…a consortia of universities that will promote research in specific areas.”. . .
As of 2015 the Minerva Initiative’s priority research areas fall within four categories:
I. Identity, Influence, and Mobilization
II. Contributors to Societal Resilience and Change
III. Power and Deterrence
IV. Innovations in National Security, Conflict, and Cooperation
A list of all research awards made since the start of the Minerva Initiative are listed at the program’s site: http://minerva.dtic.mil/funded.html. In 2015, the Minerva Steering Committee received over 300 applications (297 white papers and 46 full proposals).
(INSERT: note that this information was taken from the same website as I used in 2015 – – the dtic.mil one, and the URL is similarly invalid.)
The program’s funding of social science research for national security purposes has proven controversial. Although many scholars support Minerva, at the program’s start a number of academic researchers sounded public alarm about the prospect of Defense Department funding for research. In 2008 the American Anthropological Association sent a public letter suggesting that the funding be transferred to a different body, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF). Hugh Gusterson, a prominent anthropologist at George Mason University, wrote a series of articles in a variety of venues that have attracted significant attention,
“any attempt to centralize thinking about culture and terrorism under the Pentagon’s roof will inevitably produce an intellectually shrunken outcome….The Pentagon will have the false comfort of believing that it has harnessed the best and the brightest minds, when in fact it will have only received a very limited slice of what the ivory tower has to offer—academics who have no problem taking Pentagon funds. Social scientists call this “selection bias,” and it can lead to dangerous analytical errors.”
The journalist Nafeez Ahmed has expressed concern that Minerva research, in its effort to understand mass mobilization, may be targeting peaceful activists, NGOs and protest movements. Others believe social science should continue to emphasize security issues but worry that DoD funding will bias findings. One article notes:
“In an incentive structure that rewards an emphasis on countering global threats and securing the homeland, the devil lies in the definitions. In this framework, the Boston Marathon bombing becomes a national security problem, whereas the Sandy Hook massacre remains a matter for the police and psychologists—a distinction that is both absurd as social science and troubling as public policy.”
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Minerva – – the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare
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MINERVA RE-BRANDED, with a new website. 2017
The Minerva Research Initiative
Supporting social science for a safer world
It appears that the new website was launched in January 2017.
There is (Dec 2017) actual content on 2 tabs, “Home” and “Contact”. The content on another tab appears to be a repeat of the “Home” tab; another has zero information, another has pasted-in paragraphs (duplication).
Information that was on the original website, such as a listing of the actual projects, with some details, and at which universities, is no longer available, at least not from Minerva itself, as far as I can see.
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MAYBE THIS, ABOUT U.S. MILITARY FUNDING OF RESEARCH IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES, MOTIVATED THE RE-BRANDING?
2014-06-12 Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown, The Guardian
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OR, COVERAGE LIKE THIS MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED: This video, June 2016, makes text from the original Minerva website visible, a listing of the research projects funded by Minerva. The list is revealing. I’ll see if I can find it somewhere else. I didn’t find it on the re-branded Minerva website.
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As an elected member of the U of S Senate, I had asked the Board of Governors to disassociate with Lockheed Martin, before knowing about Minerva.
Although many scholars support Minerva . . . that would include people at the U of S! Utilitarian arguments (money!) win the day, alas.
My letters to the Board of Governors, U of S, reflect the usual: the attempt to make a water-tight case means I sent too much information to them:
1. 2014-08-19 Request to Board of Governors, University of Saskatchewan: END the relationship with Lockheed Martin Corporation
2. 2014-12-11 U.S. Torture: ADDENDUM, Letter to University, end relationship with Lockheed Martin, ‘contract interrogators’
3. 2015-01-02 Reply from Board of Governors, request to disassociate from Lockheed Martin,
4. The Minerva Initiative. from Bill C-51, Elephant in the Room, the U.S.A.