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Sociocultural Data to Accomplish Department of Defense Missions: Toward a Unified Social Framework - Workshop Summary
variety of disciplines, including anthropology; sociology; criminology; communications; modeling; and neural, cognitive, and social psychology. The Workshop on Unifying Social Frameworks: Sociocultural Data to Accomplish Department of Defense Missions, was held August 16-17, 2010, in Washington, DC. This publication is a summary and synthesis of the presentations and discussions that took place during that workshop.
The importance of the issues discussed at this workshop is reflected in the breadth and depth of experience of the audience members who elected to attend the two-day event (see Appendix A for a complete list of participants). At the start of each day, the entire workshop audience (including planning committee members and presenters) was asked to introduce themselves by name and professional affiliation. The interdisciplinary expertise attracted to the workshop provided a unique opportunity for rich dialogue. Roughly half the audience consisted of practitioners and the other half of academic researchers. Practitioners were drawn from agencies across the government and the military and represented a spectrum of missions, from senior diplomats to tactical ground forces. They interpreted the workshop presentations on the basis of potential applications to long-term strategic national interests and immediate crisis needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, audience members from academia thoughtfully considered gaps between what research knows (and may know in the future) and what the military needs to be successful. The diversity of the audience at this workshop was a critical element in discussing sociocultural data from an interdisciplinary perspective, and its contributions are evident throughout this report.
The statement of task for the workshop (see Box 1-1) defines three specific issues for the workshop to address: the types of data needed to provide a complete picture of the cultural terrain of a given region; the frameworks and databases in use by the military in analyses of sociocultural behavior; and methods and tools that can be used to aggregate sociocultural data from disparate sources into a meaningful whole. In addressing these different issues from different perspectives, the workshop speakers and discussants covered a wide range of topics, as is evident in the pages that follow, from which two broad themes emerged.
The first theme centers on data: its collection, its use in models, and questions about what exactly constitutes sociocultural data. Captain Dylan Schmorrow, acting director of the Human Performance, Training, and BioSystems Directorate, Research Directorate, Office of the Director, Defense Research and Engineering, Office of the Secretary of Defense, commenting from the workshop sponsor’s perspective, explicitly identified this as a