From the Minerva Initiative website: "Just as our military forces could not effectively operate without understanding the physical terrain and environment, detection of radical actors and regime disruptions is limited by our understanding of the cultural and political environments where those threats develop. The Minerva Research Initiative, initiated by former Secretary Gates in 2009 and now supported by Secretary Leon Panetta, seeks to build deeper understanding of the social, cultural, and political dynamics that shape regions of strategic interest around the world. Deeper understanding of global populations and their variance as provided by Minerva-funded research will yield more effective strategic and operational policy decisions. Minerva scholars have already briefed valuable, warfighter-relevant insights to senior officials such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, decision makers in the defense policy community, and on the ground to our combatant commands. As the nascent program continues to grow, university-driven Minerva research will further enable critical social and cultural understanding to help decision makers effectively address today's known and tomorrow's unknown challenges." This document from the Minerva Initiative provides the summaries of the projects undertaken by various research fellows concerning a wide-range of topics, including conventional arms control, nuclear weapons, climate change, migration, extremist organizations, and more.
Department of Defense Minerva Initiative: http://www.minerva.dtic.mil/
2nd Annual Minerva Conference. Washington, D.C. September 15-16, 2011