Minerva Research Initiative’s (Minerva) Defense Education and Civilian University Research (DECUR) Partnership

Funding Agency:
Department of Defense

Partnership aims to develop collaborative basic research partnerships between Defense Professional Military Education (PME) Institutions and Civilian Research Universities by supporting basic research projects that improve capacities in defenserelated basic social science to inform Department of Defense (DoD) policy makers and decision leaders.

Minerva aims 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. The research program seeks to:

  • Leverage and focus the resources of the Nation's top universities;
  • Define and develop foundational knowledge about sources of present and future conflict with an eye toward better understanding of the political trajectories of key regions of the world; and
  • Improve the ability of DoD to develop cutting-edge social science research, foreign area and interdisciplinary studies, that is developed and vetted by the best scholars in these fields.

Minerva brings together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars and supports interdisciplinary and cross-institutional projects addressing specific topic areas determined by the Secretary of Defense.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is interested in receiving applications for Minerva’s DECUR Partnership. The DECUR Partnership aims to develop collaborative basic research partnerships between PME Institutions and Civilian Research Universities by supporting fundamental scientific research that improves the capacity of security-related basic social science research and education. Building upon the success of Minerva’s university research awards, the DECUR Partnership aims to pair civilian university researchers with PME faculty to facilitate collaborative research in the fundamental understanding of the social and cultural forces shaping U.S. strategic interests globally. OSD is particularly interested in projects that align with and support the upcoming 2022 National Defense Strategy.


  • White Papers: Thursday, September 13, 2023 1500 Eastern
  • Full Applications: Tuesday, November 21, 2023 1500 Eastern

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

The Minerva Research Initiative competition is for research related to six (6) topics listed below. Innovative white papers and applications related to these research areas are highly encouraged. Detailed descriptions of the interest areas—which are intended to provide a frame of reference and are not meant to be restrictive—can be found in Appendix One: Research Topics.

Topic 1: Socio-economic vulnerability to climate change

Topic 2: Deterrence in the future operating environment

Topic 3: Russian speakers in online spaces

Topic 4: Power and influence in the era of strategic competition

Topic 5: The Arctic as a polar crossroads

Topic 6: Management and information in the Defense environment

Applications must include a civilian university Principal Investigator (PI) and a PME co-PI. Applications that include PME students in the research design, i.e. has a pedagogic component that uses basic research in social science to think through social science to address security challenges, will be looked upon favorably. Outside of the civilian university PI and the PME co-PI, the size of research teams is not limited, though the maximum award amount will be $400,000 distributed evenly over two years. The research questions addressed should extend beyond standard disciplinary approaches to include innovative multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary methodological approaches.

Eligibility Requirements

All U.S.-based civilian universities and Professional Military Educational (PME) institutions associated with the Air Force, Army, Navy/Marine Corps, and Joint PME may submit applications under this NFO. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Institutions (MIs) are encouraged to apply.

A single PI from the civilian university and a single co-PI from the PME institution must be designated on the application. There is no restriction on the number of additional key research personnel who can be included on a single application, but each position should be justified by the scope and focus of the research. Applications that integrate PME students in the research will be looked upon favorably. There is no limit to the number of applications that an individual PI may have submitted by their institution in response to this NFO.



Amount Description

This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NFO) intends to fund five to six grant awards, with each grant valued up to $200,000.00 per year, with a two-year period of performance. The total amount awarded from this NFO will not exceed $2,000,000.00. These funding amounts include both direct and indirect costs. Applicants are reminded that this request is subject to Federal funding appropriations and Departmental approval.

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

November 21, 2023