Minerva Research Initiative


The Minerva Research Initiative supports social science research aimed at improving our basic understanding of security, broadly defined. All supported projects are university-based and unclassified, with the intention that all work be shared widely to support thriving stable and safe communities. The goal 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.

Program & History

Launched by the Secretary of Defense in 2008, the Minerva Research Initiative is a DoD-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative that focuses on areas of strategic importance to the U.S. national security policy.


The Minerva Research Initiative has a unique relationship between Research and Policy within the DoD, being jointly administered by the Office of Basic Research and the Office of Policy at the US Department of Defense. As such, leadership across the department collaborate to identify and support basic social science research issues in need of attention and to integrate those research insights into the policy-making environment. In doing this, the leadership team closely works with the program managers within the Military Service Branches. 

Grants and Fellowships

The 2019 Minerva Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is open, The deadline for receiving White Papers has passed and notification of initial evaluations is anticipate around August 1, 2019. Full Proposals are due September 26, 2019. Application and schedule guidance can be found within the Research Priorities page. 

The Defense Education and Civilian University Research (DECUR) Partnership will follow different guidelines and deadlines than the Minerva University Grants FOA, though the Research Priorities will be the same. We anticipate the DECUR FOA to be released mid-summer.



Minerva Meeting and Program Review

The next Minerva Meeting and Program Review is being planned for Fall 2019. Details will be announced once the dates are finalized.


Learn about our Programs

  • The Minerva Research Initiative primarily funds social science basic research by university-led research teams. Research teams range from single investigators to large multi-university consortia, and all awarded projects are expected to be funded for at least three years (and in some cases--pending availability of funding--eligible for an extension up to five years).

  • The Defense Education Institution & Civilian University Research (DECUR) Partnership mission is to increase DoD social science expertise by investing in the defense experts who teach our future military and national security leaders at professional military education (PME) institutions and military service academies. R-DEF awards offer existing PME teaching faculty the resources and time to conduct scholarly research on Minerva topics of interest

  • Security is an implicit aspect of peace. Recognizing an overlap of topical interests, Minerva has joined the United States Institute of Peace to offer non-residential fellowships to doctoral candidates enrolled in U.S. universities conducting research for or writing up their doctoral dissertations, and an early career scholar award for alumnae/alumni on topics related to peace, conflict, security, and stability. These awards compliment the success of USIP’s Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace to expand support for advanced graduate students and create opportunities for ongoing support and engagement.

The Owl in the Olive Tree is Minerva's blog, aimed at sharing social scientific contributions that advance our understanding of the social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental dynamics of security. Each post highlights a key insight from a Minerva-funded researcher's published work.

Minerva News

Owl in the Olive Tree post on "Culture as Counter Extremism: West African, European, and Southeast Asian Cases"
By Mark Woodward and Muhammad Sani Umar | July 9, 2019
Minerva-funded researcher Mark Woodward and Muhammad Sani Umar's Owl in the Olive Tree blog post on
Book Launch: "The Three Pillars of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, and Networks"
By | June 14, 2019
Kruglanski, A., Belanger, J., & Gunaratna, R. 2019, June 5. Book Launch: "The Three Pillars of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, and Networks". START Headquarters, College Park.

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