27 May 2014

Strauss Center Receives DoD Grant to Study Complex Emergencies in Asia

The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law has been selected to receive a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Minerva Initiative. The Strauss Center research team, led by Dr. Joshua Busby of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, will explore the causes and dynamics of complex emergencies in Asia and options for building government capacity to prevent and respond to such situations. The Strauss Center’s proposal was one of only twelve selected for funding out of 261 applicants to the Minerva program.

“Asian countries have the highest numbers of people exposed to climate-related disasters, yet the security implications of disaster vulnerability in Asia remain understudied,” noted Joshua Busby, LBJ School of Public Affairs professor and principal investigator on the grant. “We are excited that our talented team of scholars will bring their diverse skills and deep regional knowledge to bear on assessing the implications of disasters for political stability in the region.”

“This effort brings together experts from across a range of relevant fields, including disaster vulnerability and response, conflict assessment, complex emergencies, and Asian politics. The questions they will answer are both important in their own right and also central to regional stability and hence to U.S. national interests,” said Robert Chesney, director of the Strauss Center.

This is the second time that the Strauss Center has been selected for a Minerva award. In 2009, the Defense Department funded a five-year Strauss Center initiative known as the Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) program. The new Complex Emergencies in Asia program builds on the tools and experience developed under CCAPS.

“This Asia program will leverage the novel modeling developed under CCAPS and add new risk assessment methods to design a framework for identifying, analyzing, and responding to complex emergencies in Asia,” said Ashley Moran, associate director of the Strauss Center and director of the CCAPS program.

“The Minerva Initiative grant will help us understand the complex ways that governance within and among states in the region affects vulnerability to crises and the capacities of states and societies to anticipate, withstand, and respond to them,” said Government Professor Paula Newberg of the University of Texas at Austin, who worked for many years as an advisor to the United Nations in complex emergencies regions. 

In addition to Busby, Moran, and Newberg, the Asia program’s research team includes Michael Findley and Kate Weaver of The University of Texas at Austin; Jennifer Bussell of the University of California, Berkeley; Joshua Powell of Development Gateway; and Clionadh Raleigh of the University of Sussex.

The Minerva Initiative is a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense in 2008 focusing on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy.

The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law is a nonpartisan research center at The University of Texas at Austin dedicated to promoting multi-disciplinary, policy-relevant research addressing the problems and opportunities created by our increasingly interconnected world.

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