MacArthur Launches $50 Million Science, Technology and Security Initiative
August 18, 2003 | Press Release | International Peace & Security

MacArthur will commit more than $50 million over the next six years to engage scientists and engineers at leading universities and research facilities in the U.S. and internationally in efforts to help reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.

Funding for nine U.S. universities through MacArthurs newly formed Science, Technology, and Security Initiative will help create 10 new tenured faculty positions for scientists and engineers and 100 positions for mid-career scientists and post-doctoral students engaged in international security research, a major expansion in the number of such positions dedicated to security issues.

Grants have also been made through the initiative to expand the opportunity for scientists and engineers in the United Kingdom, Russia, and China to work on international security policy. Other grants have been awarded to policy institutes and projects to help ensure that expert scientific and technical advice is made available to policymakers in a timely and accessible way.  Prominent grant recipients include the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, offering objective analysis and advice on a variety of security issues, including the dangers associated with nuclear testing and proliferation as well as emerging biological, chemical, and space weapons.

With the retirement or passing of the scientists who were involved in the early development of nuclear weapons in the United States, the number of specialists conducting independent research and analysis on weapons of mass destruction has decreased markedly, even as the threat of terrorism has grown, said Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation.  At the same time, the nature of the threat from weapons of mass destruction has changed.  The vulnerability of dangerous materials in Russia and the relative openness of biological research on pathogens, coupled with the possibility of terrorist uses of even relatively small amounts of these materials and agents, pose new challenges to the protection of people and societies. To address these new challenges, there is a need for specialists from many fields of science who are willing to engage the security policy agenda. The Science, Technology, and Security Initiative will greatly increase the number of experts involved in this vital work.

In designing this initiative, we have benefited from extensive consultation with representatives of government agencies, Congress, the Bush administration, and experts in universities, policy institutes, and non-governmental organizations, said Fanton. We have come to understand from them the continuing need for technical analysis and information about complex issues useful to those who are responsible for decisions about war and peace. The MacArthur Foundation has provided support for the field of international security for many years. We believe this will be a useful direction for our funding in the future.  

University Support
Grants totaling more than $12 million have been made to the following universities in the U.S.:

  • Carnegie Mellon University: $1.158 million over three years to support faculty and advanced graduate student research on issues related to societal vulnerability to terrorist attack.
  • Cornell University: $1.109 million over three years to create a new faculty position and fund postdoctoral and graduate student research on new dimensions of weapons proliferation.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology: $1.248 million over three years to help create a new faculty position to address a range of issues associated with weapons of mass destruction, including safeguarding dangerous materials, controlling the spread of advanced delivery systems, and protecting nuclear information systems from attack.
    Harvard University: $946,000 over three years to continue six pre- and post-doctoral fellowships for researchers working on nuclear arms and nuclear security as part of the Managing the Atom Project.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $2.1 million over three years to help expand the research, training, and public education of MIT's Technical Working Group on a range of technology-related national security problems, including ballistic missile defenses, nuclear arms reductions, fissile materials, and the future uses of space.
  • Princeton University: $1.95 million over three years to recruit new faculty members in the physical and biological sciences for two new tenured positions at the Woodrow Wilson School and broad the scope of research in international security.
  • Stanford University: $1.35 million over three years to expand and consolidate research activities related to nuclear weapons and material security issues, including investigations of nuclear smuggling and a campaign to improve international standards for the protection of fissile material.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: $1.35 million to expand the range of issues addressed in the university's arms control program to include consideration of chemical and biological agents, disease vectors, dual-use technology for bioterrorism surveillance and response, cyber warfare, and cyber security.
  • University of Maryland-College Park: $1.2 million over three years for a program designed to rethink the practical needs for arms control and to develop new conceptions of arms control based on transparency and disclosure arrangements.

New tenured faculty positions
Through the new initiative, the Foundation is providing support for research and fellowship programs that identify and nurture individuals in the physical and natural sciences and in engineering, as well as those in the social sciences working at the intersection of science and security policy.  The grants will support 10 new tenured faculty positions at major U.S. universities for scientists working on national and international security issues.  Participating universities will contribute to the initiative by authorizing and sustaining new faculty positions and covering faculty release time, tuition, and other expenses associated with these programs.

Support for mid-career scientists
At most of the universities, funding is also being used to attract mid-career scientists for three-month to year long policy research positions.  In some programs, scientists from government or industry may use these research positions as bridges to permanent faculty positions.  At others, scientists from basic research laboratories will be exposed to policy-oriented research projects and international security issues. 

Creation of postdoctoral fellowships and graduate stipends
Funding will be provided through the initiative to provide postdoctoral fellowships and graduate stipends for young scientists and engineers interested in international security.  This will ensure that the pipeline of scientists and engineers eligible for the tenured faculty positions created through the initiative will be filled over the long term. 

International Research Centers
Fanton said a hopeful recent development among countries overseas has been the emergence of independent scientists focusing on securing dangerous materials and reducing the risks from weapons of mass destruction.  To encourage and build upon this work, the MacArthur Foundation has awarded the following grants totaling more than $2 million to institutions that help support and train these scientists.

  • Analytical Center for Nonproliferation-Russia: $60,000 over one year to help increase the number of independent scientists in Russia conducting policy research and public education on technical issues related to nuclear threat reduction.
  • Center for Policy Studies in Russia: $600,000 over three years to help expand a pilot program for engineering and physics students and future diplomats on nuclear nonproliferation and arms control.
  • Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics-China: $48,000 over one year to support the participation of Chinese scientists in international conferences and workshops outside of China on issues related to nuclear arms reduction and international security.
  • King's College London-United Kingdom: $1.2 million over three years to help establish a new Science and Security Program within the Department of War Studies of the School of Social Science and Public Policy.
  • Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology-Russia: $177,000 over two years to support a new educational program in Russia to provide training in technical aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, and military policy.
  • Tsinghua University-China: $50,000 over two years for a new training program for graduate students, junior researchers, and government officials on the technical and policy aspects of arms control.

Policy Institutes
Through the initiative, almost $8 million has also been awarded to 17 policy institutes and projects to help provide opportunities for scientific and technical experts to engage in the policy process and to deepen communication among universities, policy institutes, and policymakers.

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: $50,000 in support of a workshop to discuss a Washington-based policy and coordination function for university programs in science, technology, and security.
  • American Physical Society: $100,000 for an analysis of key technical issues involved in a national missile defense system. 
  • Council on Foreign Relations: $375,000 over two years to recruit two scholars to its Science and National Security/Arms Control Fellowship, as part of its Next Generation Fellows program.
  • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: $750,000 over three years for coverage of science and security issues.
  • Eisenhower Institute: $600,000 in support of the project, The Future of Space, which will help create a model international legal framework for managing scientific, military, and commercial uses of outer space.
  • Federation of American Scientists Fund: $1.2 million over two years for activities to provide policymakers and the public with scientific information and analyses of arms control and issues related to weapons of mass destruction.
  • Georgetown University, Women in International Security: $295,000 over three years in support of a science, technology, and security initiative aimed at strengthening the communications between technical experts and the policymakers responsible for national and international security policy.
  • The Harvard-Sussex Program on CBW Armament and Arms Limitation:$325,000 to Harvard University and $325,000 to the University of Sussex to increase the contribution of scholarly research and communication to public policymaking on biological and chemical weapons development and use.
  • International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry: $50,000 to prepare recommendations to strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • Monterey Institute of International Studies: $550,000 over three years in support of a Scientist-in-Residence program and for policy research on verification of tactical nuclear weapons reduction.
  • National Academy of Sciences: $600,000 over two years in support of policy dialogues of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control with Counterparts in Russia, China and India, and for policy studies on arms reduction, defensive technologies, and weaponization of space.
  • National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences: $900,000 over three years in support of a senior science fellowship program.
  • Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs: $350,000 over three years in support of activities of the International Pugwash Conferences and the U.S. Pugwash Group to control nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and bring a new generation of scientists into debate and analysis of international security issues.
  • Student Pugwash: $375,000 over three years for activities that introduce science and engineering students to nuclear disarmament and other science-related ethical issues.
  • U.S. Pugwash: $150,000 over three years in support of activities of the International Pugwash Conferences and the U.S. Pugwash group to control nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and bring a new generation of scientists into debate and analysis of international security issues.
  • Union of Concerned Scientists: $641,000 in support of the Global Security Program and for the first international professional meeting of independent technical peace and security analysts.
  • University of Arizona Foundation: $50,000 in support of a planning project to develop a Senior Science Fellowship Program in conjunction with the university research community, the U.S. Department of State, and the professional scientific societies.

Science, Technology and Security Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
The Foundation will also establish a new center with the aim of facilitating exchange between policymakers and their staffs, on the one hand, and scientists and engineers working on security issues on the other.  The plan is to ensure that decision-makers have the scientific and technical information they require to develop policies on homeland security, national and international security issues.

The events of the past two years show with great clarity the importance of doing all that is possible to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to protect societies against their devastating effects, said Kennette Benedict, director of the International Peace and Security program at the Foundation. From biological and chemical warfare to the threat of dirty bombs and suitcase nukes, the world faces grave new challenges in efforts to identify, secure, and eliminate the worlds most dangerous weapons. This grantmaking will help bring the expertise of a larger number of scientists, technical experts, and policy analysts to bear on how to reduce the threats posed by such weapons. We hope it will help clarify emerging threats and provide leaders with rigorous analysis of the issues surrounding these weapons and cooperative means to reduce and secure them.

We believe this grantmaking will result in a significant increase in the number of independent scientists and engineers in the field of international and national security policy and that it will support the production of knowledge and analysis that will contribute to strategies for reducing the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, said Fanton.

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.
Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.