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.

Minerva Chairs: A visiting research faculty program at defense schools

Since 2010 the Office of the Secretary of Defense has partnered with a number of Defense educational institutions to sponsor Minerva Research Professorship programs at select Joint Professional Military Education schools. In 2011 the program expanded to also include the three Service Academies. Scholars accepted into Minerva Research Fellow faculty positions must investigate Minerva-relevant research topics and have a Ph.D. in social sciences or foreign area studies research, as well as a significant track record of research, teaching, academic presentation and publication exploring given topic area. The program is intended to build DoD in-house expertise in the social sciences by incorporating social science expertise into strategic levels of study and engagement across the Services and within the Department. Learn more.