The Department of Defense has disbursed some funds to universities so that scientists might study the dynamics of civil unrest — and how the U.S. military might best respond.

It’s called the “Minerva Research Initiative,” and it’s a program that was kicked off in 2008 to “improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.,” The Guardian reported.

More to point: the multi-million dollar research program seeks to uncover “warfighter-relevant insights” to help senior ranking officials in the “defense policy community” come up with “combatant commands” that work in civil unrest situations, The Guardian reported.

One area of study that’s planned for the 2014-2017 time frame partners Cornell University researchers with the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to come up with a model for the “dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions,” the text of the program stated. That particular research area will ultimately determine the “critical mass (tipping point),” of civil uprisings, where protests turn violent, the program text states, The Guardian reported.

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