View Full Version : Fighting Terrorists A Conflict of Interest?

08-03-2008, 08:56 AM
Military's Social Science Grants Raise Alarm (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/02/AR2008080201544.html) by Maria Glod, Washington Post

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is calling on "eggheads" to help the military unravel questions about the recruitment of terrorists, the resurgence of the Taliban and messages delivered in militant Muslim religious schools.

Many eggheads are wary.

The Pentagon's $50 million Minerva Research Initiative, named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and warriors, will fund social science research deemed crucial to national security. Initial proposals were due July 25, and the first grants are expected to be awarded by year's end.

But the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, which includes professors from American and George Mason universities, said dependence on Pentagon funding could make universities an "instrument rather than a critic of war-making."

In a May 28 letter to federal officials, the American Anthropological Association said that it was of "paramount importance . . . to study the roots of terrorism and other forms of violence" but that its members are "deeply concerned that funding such research through the Pentagon may pose a potential conflict of interest." ...

08-03-2008, 02:25 PM
This story is quite out of date right now. One of the key concerns of the AAA was that Minerva would be administered, and projects directly chosen by, the Pentagon. An agreement has been reached with the National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503294&org=NSF&sel_org=NSF&from=fund) to administer and choose (in a round about way) the topics. See here (http://chronicle.com/news/article/4771/minerva-takes-flesh-pentagon-national-science-foundation-sign-social-science-deal) for some of the details.