The Eye of the TIGR
The UNCW Team for Interdisciplinary Global Research (TIGR) is fulfilling a vital role in the U.S. government's efforts to learn more about geostrategic areas around the globe.
"Increasingly, the intelligence community recognizes the need to understand the complex social, cultural, economic, religious and political trends, movements and ideologies out of which security threats emerge," TIGR Director Jess Boersma explained in an April 2013 StarNews article about Chechnya. "What intelligence analysts need, therefore, is a vast array of experts from various disciplines who focus on even seemingly obscure parts of the world."
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency's Center for Language, Regional Expertise and Culture found many of those experts at UNCW. The TIGR faculty includes Boersma from foreign languages and literatures; Lisa Pollard, history; Dan Masters, public and international affairs; Herb Berg, international studies; and Karl Ricanek, computer science.
TIGR's collaborative approach resulted in a federal grant to conduct graduate-level seminars about Europe, Latin America and the Middle East for intelligence analysts. Recent seminars focused on diverse geostrategic topics, including Bosnia, Chechnya, Egypt and Turkey as well as the following presentations:
- "The Transatlantic Alliance: The Impact of America's Pivot and Europe's Financial Crisis"
- "Independence in the Middle East: Exploring Issues of Foreign Intervention to Self-Determination"
- "North Caucasus: Intrastate Relations and International Relations"
"What this innovative initiative indicates is that research into culture conducted in the humanities is far from esoteric or irrelevant," said Berg, winner of the 2013 Governor's Award for Excellence, the highest honor an N.C. state employee can receive. "Rather, it is recognized as extremely valuable by those who are making critical decisions about the future. It also highlights the essential link between our research and what we do in the classroom."