Sandia LabNews

Labs, UNM launch new security policy think tank

UNM and Sandia, with Lockheed Martin support, launch new policy center

Officials of the University of New Mexico, Sandia, and Lockheed Martin on Wednesday signed an agreement that formalizes a unique collaborative initiative to nurture scholarly thought and research on policy issues linked to national and international security.

The agreement created a new Office for Policy, Security, and Technology at UNM. The office will focus on policy areas where technology and security are related, such as weapons of mass destruction, arms control and nonproliferation, terrorism and homeland security, environment, energy, critical infrastructures, borders, sustainable development, and region-specific issues such as water scarcity.

Signing the office’s charter at a ceremony and news conference on Wednesday were UNM Acting President F. Chris Garcia, Labs President C. Paul Robinson, and Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Michael Camardo.

The office will apply a multidisciplinary approach to its investigations, drawing on the expertise of political science, economics, and other social sciences together with expertise and relationships from technical disciplines and programs. Collaborations within and between Sandia and UNM will be of special attention, but the office will actively seek to facilitate collaborations among multiple institutions and across disciplines.

"Technology can be a causative or curative agent of insecurity, but often can only be fully understood in a broader framework including economic, social, or political factors," says Roger Hagengruber (10), the office’s first director.

"This office will seek to forge broad alliances among the many experts in diverse fields at UNM, Sandia, and other organizations around the world committed to supporting thoughtful and effective national and international policy," he says. "The relationship between the University and one of the nation’s national labs will be a unique advantage."

Roger most recently served as the Labs’ senior vice president for nonproliferation and arms control. His Sandia career included assignments to negotiating teams in Geneva and service on national panels dealing with national and international security issues.

He also is a political science professor at UNM and is director of UNM’s Institute for Public Policy (IPP), which operates a survey research center to collect and analyze public attitudes about a variety of public policy issues including technology and national security.

The office will be located at UNM under Vice Provost for Research Terry Yates. A board of directors including a senior executive each from UNM and Sandia and one member of the community will oversee its activities.

Lockheed Martin is providing startup funding — $250,000 a year for five years. The long-term goal is to create a base of support from corporations, policy foundations, government agencies, and other institutions that would make the office self-sufficient, says Roger.

The primary function of the office, he says, will be to provide an environment where researchers from diverse disciplines and organizations can engage in research, projects, and education in support of the public service missions of UNM and Sandia.

In doing so, it will initiate research, develop curricula, organize conferences and seminars, host visiting scholars, engage students and interns, and convene multidisciplinary teams and task forces.

Among the office’s first efforts, says Roger, will be to conduct an in-depth analysis of more than a decade of public opinion data on national security issues that has been collected for Sandia by the IPP.

The office will also develop curricula for short courses intended for students, business leaders, and government officials on such topics as homeland security, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism; create a master’s degree program in international policy and technology; organize a conference on technology and security topics of specific interest to New Mexico and the Southwest such as water and border issues; and initiate a distinguished speakers series to share the perspectives of national and international luminaries in related fields.