Strauss Center Awarded $7.6 Million Department of Defense Grant to Study Effects of Climate Change on Political Stability in Africa

Oct. 19, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas — The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law has been awarded a $7.6 million grant by the U. S. Department of Defense, the largest single award dedicated to social science research The University of Texas at Austin has received.

The five-year grant will fund the Strauss Center's Program on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS), which will identify how climate change could trigger disasters in Africa that undermine political stability. The program will explore strategies for building African state capacity and assess global aid efforts while developing partnerships with the Africa policy community in the United States, Africa and elsewhere.

"With this prestigious Department of Defense grant, the Strauss Center is producing exactly the kind of transformative research for which it was created, building on our top academic programs," said University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. "The Strauss Center is helping to put UT at the vanguard of addressing global challenges and bringing the ideas and innovation of Texas to the rest of the world."

"Bringing multi-disciplinary knowledge together to produce cutting-edge, policy-relevant research is what the Strauss Center is all about," said Francis J. Gavin, Strauss Center director and the grant's principal investigator. "We are excited to be able to leverage the extraordinary talents of The University of Texas at Austin and our research team to bring a fresh analytical perspective and original thinking to an emerging global issue."

The Strauss Center's CCAPS program received one of the inaugural awards from the Defense Department's Minerva Research Initiative, a university-based social science research program focused on areas of strategic importance to national security. It was one of seven awardees selected nation-wide from more than 200 applicants.

"We're very grateful for this grant from the Minerva Research Initiative, which allows the Strauss Center and its partners to address head on the growing threat that climate change poses to Africa's stability and development in light of the continent's strategic importance to the United States," said retired Ambassador Gregory W. Engle, associate director of the Strauss Center.

The program will provide practical guidance to high-level policy makers in the U.S. government on the link between climate change vulnerability and political risk in Africa. It will also contribute to the body of available academic literature and develop the next generation of scholars by giving students the opportunity to participate in first-hand research.

"CCAPS utilizes the most rigorous methods available to social scientists," said Catherine E. Weaver, Strauss Center distinguished scholar. "It combines extensive qualitative fieldwork in Africa with the sophisticated use of quantitative analysis and Geographic Information System (GIS) software to better understand the complex relationship between climate change risks, political vulnerability and international aid activity."

The research team is composed of experts in climate change, African affairs, post-conflict governance and development aid. Spearheaded by the Strauss Center, the program includes researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Texas, Southwestern University, the College of William and Mary, Brown University and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. More information on the CCAPS program and its research team is available online.

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 policy-relevant scholarship on the problems and opportunities created by our increasingly globalized and interconnected world.

For more information, contact: Kerri Battles, Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs, 512-232-4054; Laura Jones, Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs.

5 Comments to "Strauss Center Awarded $7.6 Million Department of Defense Grant to Study Effects of Climate Change on Political Stability in Africa"

1.  Thomas said on Oct. 30, 2009

This is the biggest waste of taxpayer money ever created. People are losing their jobs in the United States, the soldiers need help overseas and people are broke. It's an absolute abomination to study an issue that is pointless and will never be solved.

2.  John Taylor said on Nov. 9, 2009

I appreciate that Thomas is challenged by economic and global conditions - as is my family. But a well-established scientific consensus exists that climate change will impact our security. As humans, our prosperity has always depended on effective responses to change. I am grateful that our government is investing in planning ahead to avoid conflagrations such as those we experienced through the last century.

John Taylor, doctoral student
UT Department of Geography and the Environment

3.  junaid yisa said on Nov. 11, 2009

I believe that it is a very positive development to encourage research in the areas of climate change because it affects the world as a whole. Europeans have over time blamed Americans for polluting the world with automobiles that are not fuel efficient, and the current administration seems to be putting a check on that. In the past, most of the oil producing industries in Africa used to flare their gases into the air until Americans came to assist with companies like LNG that have created a means of trapping and converting these gases for commercial purposes. I believe and support a global effort toward climate change, whether it is for maintaining a stable political society or preventing a drastic climate change that could threaten the survival of the human species.

4.  Mark Coats said on Nov. 11, 2009

The Department of Defense (DoD) has determined that climate change presents a national security threat. An investment of $7.6 million is a minuscule part of the $515.4 billion 2009 DoD's budget. They want to be prepared for the impact of climate change. Impacts such as, for example, a rise in sea level. Estimates are that for each meter rise in sea level, 100 million refugees will be created.

In 2008, there were 15.2 million refugees around the world, according to Refugees International. Can you imagine the global and local reverberations if 100 million people are forced to flee their native countries because of rising sea levels?

5.  Jake Leighton said on Nov. 16, 2009

There has not been ONE instance where CO2 levels have come before global temperature increases in 600 million years, and they have been many times higher before.