Wednesday, May 28, 2008

AAA Responds to Proposed Minerva Consortium

In a recent letter (below) to the White House’s Office of Management of Budget, the AAA has called for a redirection of funding and management of the "Minerva Consortia," a Defense Department program which aims to support social science research in critical security areas such as Iraqi and terrorist perspectives and Chinese military and technology studies.

The letter, authored by AAA President Setha M. Low on behalf of the AAA, supports the overall mission of the Minerva program—to use humanities and social science research to promote a reduction in armed conflict. Yet Low argues that organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities would be more effective in funding and managing the project and in reaching out to key scholars.

“Rigorous, balanced and objective peer review is the bedrock of successful and productive programs that sponsor academic research. Agencies such as NSF, NIH and NEH have decades of experience in building an infrastructure of respected peer-reviewers who referee individual grant proposals and give their time on selected panels,” wrote Low.

Low also warned that a program funded by the Defense Department might accept scholars who are not familiar with disciplinary standards, and might fail to attract some key experts that are unfamiliar with Defense Department funding processes.

Readers are encouraged to voice their thoughts on Project Minerva and our response to the proposed program in the comments section below.

Related Links:
AAA Minerva Letter [pdf]
Chronicle of Higher Ed Blog Posting
Inside Higher Ed Article
Wired Magazine's Danger Room Blog Posting
Savage Minds Blog Posting


Cassandra Was Right said...

There is an extremely useful aphorism that I believe should be kept firmly in mind in this case:
A horse is always easiest to ride in the direction it was already going.

Project Minerva is going to happen. While it might not be perfect, it is going to happen. While it could be far better if managed far differently, it is going to happen. I believe it is better for DOD, for anthropology, and for the results that might be achieved for the AAA to ride a course that might not be its first choice rather than to stand behind watching the hoofprints recede, complaining that the shoes aren't on straight.

Kathryn Berck
Johns Hopkins 1982

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