January 24, 2006

Grant for Peace Studies Renewed

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As the war in Iraq persists, Cornell University’s Peace Studies Program grows stronger with the renewal of a $1.86 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The generous five-year grant from the foundation’s International Peace and Security area of a Program on Global Security and Sustainability begins in July 2006. Money will go towards advancing initiatives in research projects and science and security studies education.

The MacArthur Foundation’s grant aims to develop a community of U.S. and international experts able to provide objective technical analysis of international security issues. According to Cornell’s website, the Peace Studies Program will focus on contemporary issues of missile defense, weaponization of space, biological weapons and policy for dual-use technology, with an emphasis on developing policy-relevant results.

The grant “will increase Cornell’s traditional strength in the training of natural scientists to take on advisory roles in international security issues,” said G. Peter Lepage, the Harold Tanner Dean of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The $1.86 million is part of an $8 million grant awarded to Carnegie Mellon University, Princeton University and the Georgia Institute of Technology and a $50 million Science, Technology and Security Initiative that is dedicated to bridging the divide between science and security.

With the generous gift, the Peace Studies Program will be able to expand upon previous activities.

“With the previous grant and support of the University, we’ve established a faculty position in technology and security,” said Judith Rippy, acting director of the Peace Studies Program.

Prof. Kathleen Vogel, science and technology studies and specialist in biological weapons, currently holds this new position.

In addition, the previous grant allowed the Peace Studies Program to create a senior research position, currently held by George Lewis, an expert on missile defense and weapons in space. Lewis plans to study security issues relating to missile defense, weapons in space and biological weapons.

“These two faculty and staff positions are the most important new things that we were able to do because of the MacArthur Foundation support,” Rippy said.

As part of the Bovay Lecture Series in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Lewis and Vogel will be leading a Technology and Security Study Group to discuss contemporary security issues.

“It’s a big grant for us. It’s important recognition of the subject of technical arms control and good recognition for Cornell as well,” Rippy said.

The grant will continue to support graduate fellowships, postdoctoral researchers and a senior research associate position, with a long-term goal of attaining international peace and security initiatives by reducing the threat of biological and nuclear weapons. Under the grant, Cornell will hire one postdoctoral associate per year.

“We aim to create an enduring capacity for the training of future generations of scientists who can contribute to the public discussions of technically related security issues,” said Rippy in an interview with Cornell Chronicle.

The MacArthur Foundation is dedicated to bringing information, analysis and conceptual frameworks to the attention of lawmakers and policy advisors by supporting projects that engage policymakers in discussions of national and international security issues, facilitates the flow of new ideas to policy leaders and ensures that scientific and technical expertise is made available to decision makers.

“The number of specialists providing independent analysis of nuclear and biological weapons dangers falls far short of the international community’s needs, especially as the threat of terrorism has grown,” said Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation, on its website.

The grant appears to have come at an important time.

“The diffusion of nuclear weapons material and expertise and the emerging dangers from biotechnology and cyberspace pose new and profound threats to international peace and security,” Fanton said.

Archived article by Jessica Liebman
Sun Staff Writer