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

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.