Sending Office: Honorable Daniel Lipinski
Please join us in urging the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to restore and enhance the Minerva Research Initiative. Since 2008, the Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative has brought together universities, research institutions, and
individual scholars through interdisciplinary and cross-institutional projects to understand the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.
The knowledge created through sound social science research – the hallmark of the Minerva program – is critical to the Department’s development of complex military strategies that address threats and challenges across the full spectrum of military action.
Minerva’s cutting-edge social science research sets the foundation for a better understanding of current and future conflicts and arms decision-makers with knowledge about the social, cultural, behavioral, and political dynamics that shape our global interactions.
The Department’s FY 2021 budget request proposes to eliminate Defense-wide funding for the Minerva Research Initiative and likely cancel 23 ongoing Minerva projects being conducted by more than 30 universities. We hope you will join us in requesting $17
million be provided from the Defense-wide Basic Research Initiatives for the Minerva Research Initiative in the FY21 Defense Appropriations Bill.
If you have any questions or would like to cosign this letter, please reach out to Caitlyn McGuire at Caitlyn.firstname.lastname@example.org or (202)225-5701 by COB March 12.
Daniel W. Lipinski
Member of Congress
Dear Chairman Visclosky and Ranking Member Calvert:
As you prepare your Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Appropriations bill, we request that you include $17 million within Defense-wide Basic Research Initiatives for the Minerva Research Initiative. This will reverse the Department’s proposed elimination of Defense-wide
funding for the Minerva Research Initiative and the likely cancellation of 23 ongoing projects being conducted by more than 30 universities.
The Minerva Research Initiative is the Department of Defense’s (DOD) signature social science basic research program that funds university-led teams to address problems of strategic importance to U.S. national security. Many challenges faced by the DOD have
social aspects related to conflict. Minerva provides critical access to expertise to help the military better understand how these social aspects impact security and stability in our districts across the nation, and America’s interests abroad. Recently funded
Minerva projects include “Russian Disinformation and Propaganda Campaigns” and “Empirical Analysis for Meeting Great Power Challenges,” which have given the DOD unique insights to help shape future national security policies and better position the warfighter
in a complex global environment. Minerva projects are aligned with the National Defense Strategy (NDS) in support of Department-wide priorities. At a critical time of increasing Great Power competition, tension with states like Iran and North Korea, and
potential for disruption from non-state actors, the DOD has proposed eliminating Minerva from the Defense-wide Basic Research Initiatives account.
Minerva helps the military better understand, anticipate, and counter adversarial social interventions such as cybersecurity attacks, disinformation campaigns, influence operations, predatory economics, and other resource constraints. This initiative must
be sustained and augmented to help the DOD maintain robust and long-term relationships with the nation’s diverse community of social science researchers as we prepare for the more complex, interrelated, and increasingly deadly set of challenges described in
the 2018 NDS.  Minerva directly supports our technological edge by informing topics like cyber, autonomy, deterrence, and human-technology interactions. Minerva also supports 2018 NDS objectives by helping the United States understand the conditions
and drivers for strengthening alliances and attracting new partners to help ensure our security
Minerva scholars are widely regarded to provide valuable insights and are regularly asked to brief high-ranking officials across the federal government. Through Minerva, DOD has succeeded in revitalizing connections with academic social science communities
and has built cultural and foreign area knowledge on topics ranging from China-Russia great power competition, NDS strategic priorities, to geopolitical power projection strategies in a multi-polar world, as noted in a recent evaluation of Minerva by the National
Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.  Minerva scholars have also informed NDS development and assessment. The knowledge created through sound social science research – the hallmark of the Minerva program – is vital to the DOD’s response to
threats and challenges across the full spectrum of military action.
According to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on the role of social sciences in national security, “Having a fundamental understanding of how people and societies behave, why they respond the way they do, what they
find important, what they believe or value, and what and how they think about others is critical for the country’s well-being in today’s global environment.”  Minerva’s cutting-edge social science research achieves this, establishing the foundation for
America’s leaders to anticipate and understand current and future conflicts, develop effective military strategy, and enhance America’s national security and global stability.
Thank you for your consideration of our request to include $17 million to restore this important program in the fiscal year 2021 Defense Appropriations bill.
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