Minerva Initiative Minerva Initiative

Beginning in Academic Year 2014-2015, the Minerva Chairs program has been replaced by the Minerva Research for Defense Education Faculty (R-DEF) program. Learn more here.

Minerva Chairs Program

The Minerva Chairs program, funding endowed faculty chairs at DoD academic institutions, ran between 2010 and 2014 with a two-part goal:

  • To build DoD in-house expertise in the social sciences at the strategic level across the Services and within the Department
  • To enhance connectivity between defense educational institutions and the civilian university-based social science research community

To meet these objectives, the Office of the Secretary of Defense partnered with a range of Defense educational institutions to launch Minerva Chair programs at select Joint Professional Military Education schools and Service Academies.

FY13 Minerva Research Professors and Topics

Army War College

Robert Bunker: Dark Globalization and New Insurgency Forms

Dr. Robert J. Bunker is Distinguished Visiting Professor and Minerva Chair at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. He is also Adjunct Faculty, School of Politics and Economics (SPE), Claremont Graduate University. Past professional associations include Futurist in Residence (FIR), Training and Development Division, Behavioral Science Unit (BSU), FBI Academy, Quantico; CEO, Counter-OPFOR Corporation; Adjunct Faculty, School of Policy, Planning, and Development (PPD), University of Southern California; Terrorism Instructor, California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI), California Office of Emergency Services (OES); Staff Member (Consultant), Counter-OPFOR Program, National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-West (NLECTC-West); Fellow, Institute of Land Warfare (ILW), Association of the US Army (AUSA); Adjunct Faculty, National Security Studies M.A. Program and Political Science Department, California State University San Bernardino; and Faculty, Unconventional Warfare M.A. Distance Education Program, American Military University. Dr. Bunker holds university degrees in political science, government, social science, anthropology-geography, behavioral science, and history. He has delivered over two-hundred presentations- including papers and training- to military, law enforcement, academic and policy audiences including US Congressional Testimony. He has over two-hundred publications ranging from edited books and booklets through reports, chapters, articles/essays, response guidance, subject bibliographies and encyclopedia entries in academic, policy, military and law enforcement venues. Among those are the work Red Teams and Counterterrorism Training (with Steve Sloan) and the edited works including Criminal Insurgencies in Mexico and the Americas: The Gangs and Cartels Wage War; Narcos Over the Border: Gangs, Cartels and Mercenaries; Criminal-States and Criminal-Soldiers; Networks, Terrorism and Global Insurgencies; and Non-State Threats and Future Wars.

Jeffrey McCausland: Conventional Arms Control in Europe for Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Jeff McCausland, Colonel, US Army (retired) is a Distinguished Professor of Research and the Minerva Chair holder at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, with research emphasizing new approaches in deterrence. He is also a Visiting Professor of International Security Affairs at Dickinson College. Dr. McCausland is a retired Colonel, holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and is a West Point graduate. His military assignments included: the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, Army Staff; command of an artillery battalion during the Gulf War; Dean of the Army War College; and Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control, National Security Council Staff, the White House. Since retiring from active duty he has served as a Chaired Professor of Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy and subsequently a Visiting Professor at the Penn State Graduate School of International Affairs. Dr. McCausland is also a Senior Fellow at both the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the Naval Academy. He has published and lectured broadly both in the United States and in numerous foreign countries on national security affairs, NATO, the wars in Afghanistan/Iraq, and leadership development.

Air University

Asian-Pacific Security: Past, Present, and Future

Naval War College

Montgomery McFate: Cultural Knowledge and National Security

Dr. McFate is a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues. Currently, she is the Minerva Chair at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Formerly, she was the Senior Social Scientist for the US Army's Human Terrain System. She has held positions at a variety of think tanks, including RAND and the Institute for Defense Analyses. She also worked at the US Navy's Office of Naval Research, where she was awarded a Distinguished Public Service Award by the Secretary of the Navy. She has served on the Army Science Board and the Defense Science Board, and was an instructor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Dr. McFate received a B.A. from University of California at Berkeley, a PhD in Anthropology from Yale University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Her PhD dissertation concerned British counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland. She has published in such journals as Journal of Conflict Studies, Military Review and Joint Forces Quarterly. Additionally, she was one of the primary contributors to Army Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency. She is a native of Marin County, California.

The Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University

Denise Natali: Federalism in Iraq/ Iraq's Energy Pursuits

Dr. Natali is the Minerva Chair at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University (NDU). For the past nearly twenty years, she has lived, worked and conducted independent research in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria, and is the author of numerous publications on Kurdish nationalism, politics, economy, and identity, including The Kurdish Quasi-State: Development and Dependency in Post-Gulf War Iraq (Syracuse University Press, 2010) and The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey and Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), which received the 2006 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title (Trans to Turkish as Kurtler ve Devlet: Iraq, Turkiye ve Iran'da Ulusal Kimligin Gelismesi (Istanbul: Avesta Press, 2009)). Her current research is on the political-economy of federalism in Iraq and resource-based conflicts linked to energy sector development. She is writing a book on the changes and continuities in populations and places across the Kurdistan regions of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria based on interviews and journals she has kept since the 1990 Gulf War.

Dr. Natali also specializes in post-conflict relief and reconstruction, having worked for INGOs and the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in Peshawar, Pakistan and post-Gulf War Iraqi Kurdistan respectively. Prior to her position at NDU, Dr. Natali was engaged in initiatives to develop the higher education sector in post-Saddam Iraqi Kurdistan, including the University of Kurdistan in Arbil and the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, where she was the Academic Dean, Research Centers Director, Associate Professor, and Director of International Programs and Exchanges.

Dr. Natali received a Ph.D in political science at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of International Affairs (MIA) at Columbia University. Dr. Natali also has studied at the L'Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, University of Tehran, and Tel Aviv University. She speaks English, French, Kurdish, and conversational Farsi.

US Air Force Academy

Charlotte Lee: The Chinese Communist Party's Economic Transitions via Organizational Reform

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Charlotte Lee received a bachelor's degree in political economy and Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed her Ph.D. program at Stanford University's political science department. Lee's dissertation Party Adaptation, Elite Training, and Political Selection in Reform-Era China explores how market incentives have shaped the behavior of organizations located within the Chinese Communist Party. She teaches courses on Chinese politics, comparative politics and international relations.

US Military Academy at West Point

Luke Gerdes: Dynamic Network Models of Salafist-Motivated Terrorism in SE Asia

Dr. Luke Gerdes joined the faculty as a Minerva Chair in the USMA Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership in March 2012. His research will combine network methodology with the study of Islam to better understand how socio-structural factors impact the formation of ideologies and shared values, particularly in Muslim Southeast Asia. This work will develop models of society to account for the connectivity of people, information, and resources through social, cultural, political, and spatial systems.

Dr. Gerdes most recently completed a visiting researcher position at the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, where he facilitated the completion of a dynamic network model that examines operational, logistical, financial, ideological, training, familial, and friendship ties among individuals and organizations.

He is currently in the final stages of his Doctoral Program at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). He has studied at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism in Singapore, where he focused on extremism in Southeast Asia. He has also studied the Global Salafist movement at the Center of Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) at Carnegie Mellon.

US Naval Academy

Meredith Lair: History of Culture and Warfare

Dr. Meredith Lair is the 2013-2014 Minerva Research Fellow in the Department of History at the U.S. Naval Academy. She is an associate professor in the Department of History & Art History at George Mason University, where she teaches courses in war and American society, post-1945 US social and cultural history, the Vietnam War, and historical methods. She also directs Mason's Interdisciplinary Studies master's program. Broadly speaking, Dr. Lair's research investigates the role that culture can play as an instrument of war. Her first book, Armed with Abundance: Consumerism and Soldiering in the Vietnam War, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2011. It examines the non-combat experiences of American soldiers in Vietnam and finds that the US military relied heavily on consumerism and material abundance to maintain soldier morale, a phenomenon that continues to the present day. Her current project, tentatively titled "The [In]Visible Soldier: Vietnam Veteran Activism and the Militarization of America", addresses legacies of the Vietnam War, in particular how ideas about veteranhood have been constructed and changed over time. She also developed content and wrote the exhibit script for the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation's Vietnam Era Educational Center, the first permanent museum about the Vietnam War in the United States. Dr. Lair received her PhD from Penn State University.

Previous Minerva Research Professors

Scholars previously holding Minerva Chair positions include:

Susan Aaronson

National War College (NDU), 2012-2013
Topic: Susan Aaronson: Role of Democracy and Trade Liberalization as Anticorruption Counterweights
(secondary focus: internet freedom implications of cyber security)
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: George Washington University

Chad Briggs and Tracy Briggs

Air University, 2010-2012
Topic: Energy and Environmental Security
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Global Int, LLC

Jocelyne Cesari

National War College, 2011-2012
Topic: Islam as a Political Institution
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Georgetown University

Norman Cigar

Marine Corps University 2010-2013
Topic: Al Qa'ida; Saddam's Nuclear Pursuits

Jack LeCuyer

U.S. Army War College, 2010-2011
Topic: Considerations for a 21st Century National Security Staff
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Executive Director, White House Fellows Foundation

Makame Muhajir

U.S. Military at West Point, 2012-2013
Topic: Ethnocultural and Political Interactive Research in Tanzania

Williamson Murray

U.S. Naval War College, 2011-2013
Topic: Wars of the Middle East in the 20th Century
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

John Nagl

U.S. Naval Academy, 2012-2013
Topic: History of Culture and Warfare
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Headmaster, The Haverford School

Sarah Sewall

U.S. Naval War College, 2012
Topic: Military Adaptation to Civilian Protection Norms
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Harvard Kennedy School

Phil Wang

U.S. Air Force Academy, 2012-2013
Topic: China Goes to Africa: A Strategic Move of the Grand Rise?
     Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Georgia Tech

Nahed Zehr

U.S. Naval War College, 2011-2012
Topic: Ethics of war and the just war tradition in Islam
Post-Minerva Chair affiliation: Faculty position at Western Kentucky University