More news about the Minerva project. I mentioned in a previous post my deep skepticism on this direct involvement of the DOD in sponsoring social science research. This is related with the ethical problematic of instrumentalizating social research to follow military purposes. In a recent article at the Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog it is mention a essay which points out to one of the main criticisms on the Minerva initiative. In this essay , “David H. Price, an associate professor of anthropology and sociology at St. Martin’s University, warned that military-financed social science will crowd out other forms of academic inquiry”. I still believe that the participation of the NSF may not preclude some the inherent problems of this type of initiatives. For instances, Minerva final objectives may not be different from those found  in the 1960’s DOD project: Camelot.  Camelot was seen  as a component of a larger behavioral science project of social engineering whose contributions had very narrow instrumental purpose, oriented by a ‘conservative’ agenda of research,  of  finding effective instruments and knowledge to operationalize a notion of ‘order’ (e.g. anti-insurgency, etc) . The adverse reaction against Camelot in Latin America ended in a backlash against US scholars doing field research in Latin American countries.

From Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, June 30, 2008 by David Glenn”

In a memorandum of understanding that was signed today, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation have agreed to work cooperatively to support social-science research on topics of interest to the Pentagon.

As widely expected, the NSF has agreed to help review proposals submitted to the Pentagon’s Minerva Research Initiative, a fledgling program that will offer grants to university-based scholars to study the Chinese military, the records of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and other specific topics.

The two agencies will soon — possibly within a week — release a joint request for Minerva-related proposals. Those proposals will be judged by the NSF’s typical merit-review panels, though the Pentagon has the right to nominate experts to serve on those panels. (The Pentagon is also accepting Minerva proposals through a separate pathway known as a broad agency announcement. Proposals that are submitted via this second track will reviewed through the Defense Department’s usual processes, not by NSF panels.)

But Monday’s agreement is broader than Minerva: It also creates a mechanism through which the Department of Defense can help to finance other national-security-related proposals submitted to the NSF. In such cases, scholars will have the option to decline the Pentagon’s money. (read full here)

The Pentagon as already started to invite universities to apply for grants of research for the Minerva initiative.

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