The Department of Defense recently announced the creation of the Minerva Research Initiative (PDF), also known as Project Minerva, providing as much as $75 million over five years to support social science research on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. The initiative indicates a renewal of interest in social science findings after a prolonged period of neglect, but it also prompts concerns about the appropriate relationship between university-based research programs and the state, especially when research might become a tool of not only governance but also military violence. The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has invited prominent scholars to speak to the questions raised by Project Minerva and to address the controversy it has sparked in academic quarters.

See below for the most recent articles and click on the three links appearing under Essays by Theme to see all articles addressing the Minerva Research Initiative.

For more background on the issues raised by the Minerva Initiative, download “Making Sense of the Minerva Controversy and the NSCC,” by Thomas Asher (PDF: 7 pages, 128KB).

Latest Essays

Knowing the Enemy
In the summer of 1953, a major military-academic project came under attack on Capitol Hill. The target was Harvard University’s Refugee Interview Project…
submitted by David C. Engerman,
Associate Professor of History, Brandeis University
Building Bridges and Communities
The US government has always turned to the nation’s scholars and intellectuals for help in times of national crisis or emergency…
submitted by Thomas Mahnken,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning
The Minerva Controversy; a Cautionary Tale
The Minerva initiative has elicited several warnings of creeping contamination…
submitted by Ron Robin,
Professor, New York University
Minerva: Unclipping the Owl’s Wings
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ announcement last April of a new initiative, named Minerva, after the Roman goddess of war and wisdom…
submitted by Ron Krebs,
Professor, University of Minnesota
Minerva and Critical Public Engagement
There are a myriad of reasons for the social sciences to be skeptical of developing closer working relationships with the military by cashing in on new opportunities …
submitted by Robert Albro,
Chair, AAA’s Ad Hoc Commission on Anthropology’s Engagement with the Security and Intelligence Communities

To read additional essays please browse the links below.

Essays by Theme

All Essays


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