‘War on terror’ social science funding announced

Wired has the list of funded projects from the Pentagon’s new $50 million ‘Minerva’ programme that supports social science research intended to have a strategic benefit for the ‘war on terror’.

Named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, the project is part of the US Government’s increasing reliance on social science to fight the ‘war on terror’ and it comes in the wake of the controversy over its Human Terrain System.

However, a key difference is that the Human Terrain System is a team of social scientists employed by the US Army to directly assist the military with its ongoing operations, while the Minerva project funds university research.

The seven funded projects cover sociology, psychology, religious studies and political science and Wired gives brief rundown:

Susan Shirk of the University of California at San Diego. Shirk will lead a project titled “The Evolving Relationship between Technology and National Security in China: Innovation, Defense Transformation and China’s Place in the Global Technology Order.”

Arizona State Religious Studies prof Mark Woodward. His team will investigate “counter radical-Muslim discourse.” (Read Woodward’s recent commentary on the Bush shoe-throwing incident here.)

Arms control expert Patricia Lewis, who is deputy director and scientist-in-residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her project will look at Iraqi perspectives on the U.S. wars in the Middle East.

Jacob Shapiro of Princeton University. Shapiro studies the organizational aspects of terrorism; his proposal was titled “Terrorism Governance and Development.”

San Francisco State University psychology prof David Matsumoto, who leads a project called “Emotion and Intergroup Relations.”

Foreign policy expert James Lindsay of the University of Texas. He is leading an investigation into the effects of climate change on state stability in Africa.

MIT’s Nazli Choucri. Her project will focus on “cyber international relations.”

Unfortunately, the announcement is a little short on details and we only have the titles so far, but the projects seem interesting at first glance as they are much more general than the typical Pentagon funded research in this area which is often highly applied and bears upon an immediate and pressing problems.

Wired notes that the Minerva project was announced, in part, to ‘heal the rift’ between the government and social scientists, some of whom have expressed their anger at the ‘militarization’ of their discipline.

Thanks to the excellent Advances in the History of Psychology for the heads-up on this.

Link to Wired’s closer look at Minerva’s funding.

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