Minerva Initiative Minerva Initiative

Program History & Overview

Program Objectives

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.

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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.

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