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Immediate Release

Department of Defense Awards $2 Million for Social Science Research Under the Defense Education and Civilian University Partnership

The DoD announced the selection of six DoD and university faculty teams to pursue fundamental social science research through the Defense Education and Civilian University Research (DECUR) Partnership, a program under DoD’s Minerva Research Initiative (Minerva).

DECUR aims to develop collaborative relationships between Defense Professional Military Education (PME) institutions and civilian research universities to improve national security-relevant basic social science research, train future military leaders in social science methods, enhance scientific cooperation between civilian and military educational institutions, and ultimately better inform DoD policymakers’ understanding of the social and cultural forces shaping U.S. strategic interests globally. 

“The Department depends upon groundbreaking social science research to better understand the evolving geopolitical environment in which our military operates,” said Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (USD(R&E)) Heidi Shyu. “Generating unique insights into topics as varied as the destabilizing effects of climate change and the threats of misinformation, Minerva and the DECUR program have for years been key tools in the protection of our national security.”

“The DECUR Partnership will help encourage and facilitate connections between faculty at PME institutions and civilian universities who have complementary intellectual and research interests,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Director of the Basic Research Office (BRO). “By fostering this partnership, DECUR awardees will generate knowledge and methodologies that will equip them to take a lead in social science research that addresses National Defense Strategy-relevant problems.”

Through its network of faculty investigators, Minerva strengthens the Department’s connections with the social science community and helps DoD better understand and prepare for future challenges, particularly those prioritized in the National Defense Strategy. The BRO within the Office of the USD(R&E) funds this initiative and administers it jointly with the Strategy and Force Development Office within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

The DoD selected six faculty for the following projects, which are funded for three to four years.

1. Critical Minerals, Battery Technology, and Reducing Dependence on Hostile Suppliers in the Clean Energy Supply Chain

  • Principal Investigator (PI) Joshua Busby (University of Texas, Austin) and Co-PI Emily Holland (United States Naval War College)
  • Topic Area (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (OUSD)): Social Implications of Environmental Change

2. Strategic Competition in Cyberspace: Measuring the Effects of Cyber Campaigning through Experimental Methodology 

  • PI Richard Harknett (University of Cincinnati) and Co-PI J.D. Work (National Defense University)
  • Topic Area (OUSD): Security Risks in Ungoverned, Semi-Governed, and Differently Governed Spaces 

3. Understanding Multi-stakeholder Regime Formation: The Case of Cislunar Space 

  • PI Mariel Borowitz (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Co-PI James Clay Moltz (Naval Postgraduate School)
  • Topic Area (OUSD): Security Risks in Ungoverned, Semi-Governed, and Differently Governed Spaces

4. Characterizing and Countering the Normalization of Extremism and Communal Violence in Cyber-Social Space

  • PI Yu-Ru Lin (University of Pittsburgh) and Co-PI Deborah Wheeler (United States Naval Academy)
  • Topic Area (Office of Naval Research): Community Studies on Online and Offline Influence

5. Assessing the Influence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Local Communities at Global Scale 

  • PI Kenneth Joseph (University at Buffalo) and Co-PI Camber Warren (Naval Postgraduate School)
  • Topic Area (OUSD): Computational Social Science Research to Difficult-to-Access Environments

6. Artificial Intelligence Design across Cultures: Cognitive Linguistics Describes Ethical Implications 

  • PI Scott Jarvis (University of Utah) and Co-PI Gwyneth Sutherlin (National Defense University)
  • Topic Area (Air Force Office of Scientific Research): Social and Cultural Implications of Artificial Intelligence

For more information on the Minerva Research Initiative, visit

About USD(R&E) 

The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E)) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the U.S. military’s technological advantage. Learn more at, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn at