Just as the Cold War gave rise to new ideas and fields of study such as game theory and Kremlinology, the challenges facing the world today call for a broader conception and application of national power that goes beyond military capability. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is interested in receiving proposals for the Minerva Research Initiative, a university-led defense social science program seeking fundamental understanding of the social and cultural forces shaping U.S. strategic interests globally. The Minerva Research Initiative (Minerva) emphasizes questions of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. It seeks to increase the Department’s intellectual capital in the social sciences and improve its ability to address future challenges and build bridges between the Department and the social science community. Minerva brings together universities and other research institutions around the world and supports multidisciplinary and cross-institutional projects addressing specific topic areas determined by the Department of Defense. The Minerva program aims to promote research in specific areas of social science and to promote a candid and constructive relationship between DoD and the social science academic community. The Minerva Research Initiative competition is for research related to the five (5) topics and associated subtopics listed below. Innovative white papers and proposals related to these research topics are highly encouraged. Detailed descriptions of the topics can be found in Section IX, “Specific Minerva Research Initiative Topics.” I. Identity, Influence, and Mobilization Culture, identity, and security Influence and mobilization for change II. Contributors to Societal Resilience and Change Governance and rule of law Migration and urbanization Populations and demographics Environment and natural resources Economics III. Power and Deterrence Global order Power projection and diffusion Beyond conventional deterrence Area studies IV. Analytical methods and metrics for security research V. Innovations in National Security, Conflict, and Cooperation Proposals will be considered both for single-investigator awards as well as larger teams. A team of university investigators may be warranted because the necessary expertise in addressing the multiple facets of the topics may reside in different universities, or in different departments of the same university. The research questions addressed should extend across a fairly broad range of linked issues where there is clear potential synergy among the contributions of the distinct disciplines represented on the team. Team proposals must name one Principal Investigator as the responsible technical point of contact. Similarly, one institution will be the primary recipient for the purpose of award execution. The relationship among participating institutions and their respective roles, as well as the apportionment of funds including sub-awards, if any, must be described in both the proposal text and the budget. The Minerva Research Initiative is a multi-service effort. Ultimately, however, funding decisions will be made by OSD personnel, with technical inputs from the Services.
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.
• Seek to define and develop foundational knowledge about sources of present and future conflict with an eye toward better understanding of the political trajectories of key regions of the world.
• Improve the ability of DoD to develop cutting-edge social science research, foreign area and interdisciplinary studies, that is developed and vetted by the best scholars in these fields.
The Minerva Initiative brings together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars and supports interdisciplinary and cross-institutional projects addressing specific topic areas determined by the Secretary of Defense.
University Research Grants
The Minerva Research Initiative primarily funds social science basic research by university-led research teams.
R-DEF: Research for Defense Education Faculty
The R-DEF Mission is to increase DoD social science expertise by investing in the defense experts who teach our future military and national security leaders at PME institutions and military service academies. R-DEF awards range from $1,000 to $80,000 to offer existing PME teaching faculty the resources and time (e.g., via course buyouts) to conduct scholarly research in topics of Minerva interest.