Somethings are nice to sleep up against, but not everything. Anthropologists have a lot to worry about when it comes to bed partners, as the outrage over the Human Terrain System has shown. More ugly, and more threatening than the HTS program lies in the military’s ability to tap into nearly unlimited amounts of tax payer money. A few hundred thousand dollars a year to go fight on an HTS team is one thing, but more tricky, and more sinister is the ability of the military to coerce and influence the minds of researchers at home.
The Pentagon has begun to push for social science that informs military planners, by forming the Minerva Research Initiative.
“The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are initiating a university-based social and behavioral science research activity, as part of The Minerva Initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense, that focuses on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. NSF and DoD intend: 1) to develop the DoD’s social and human science intellectual capital in order to enhance its ability to address future challenges; 2) to enhance the DoD’s engagement with the social science community; and 3) to deepen the understanding of the social and behavioral dimensions of national security issues. In pursuit of these objectives, NSF and DoD will bring together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars and will support disciplinary, interdisciplinary and collaborative projects addressing areas of strategic importance to national security policy. Proposals are to be submitted directly to NSF as described in the solicitation. “
In a nutshell, it is the military’s attempt to collaborate with academics (woot collaborative research! okay that wasn’t really the idea was it.). Obviously there are some issues that come up with this… National security issues can be seen in very different ways, and so the military perspective might be very different then that of academics. How will grants be given out? Who will decide the perspectives to foster? How will it get “framed”? Who will have access to the research produced?
Oh yeah, why do we want the military funding academic research at all? How did we get here again?
So many questions…
Thankfully the Social Science Research Council (SSRC.ORG) is opening up a discussion forum to discuss the many issues that come with Minerva funding. I’m impressed with, and thankful for, their strategy of informing bloggers to get help spreading the word.
And check out Max’s Open Anthropology posts concerning funding ethics, minerva, and anthropologists colluding with the military.