Trident and Triremes: funding for research into nuclear weapons and Ancient Greece

Two University of Leicester academics have received more than three and a half million euros from the European Research Council for major projects investigating the ancient past and the world of the future.

Dr Andrew Futter, Associate Professor of International Politics, has been award an ERC Consolidator Grant of €1.6 million for his research project ‘Towards a Third Nuclear Age? Strategic Conventional Weapons and the Next Revolution in Global Nuclear Order’.

Dr Futter, from our School of History, Politics and International Relations, said: “The project will examine how developments in new destabilising non-nuclear weapons technologies by all leading states will revolutionise the way that we manage the threats posed by nuclear weapons. These new capabilities include cyber weapons and precision strike systems that could be used to destroy nuclear weapons and support systems on land, under the sea and in the air, as well as the challenges posed by anti-space weapons, Artificial Intelligence and a digitised nuclear environment. Together these represent a sea-change in how we think about the ultimate weapon, maintain stability, counter proliferation, manage crises and prevent escalation, and challenge the central tenets of nuclear politics that have existed since the 1960s.  The aim of the project is to chart this new phenomenon globally in order to build an entirely new academic and conceptual framework for how we understand our nuclear world, and to prevent nuclear weapons from ever being used again.”

Another ERC Consolidator Grant, for €2 million has been awarded to Dr Naoíse Mac Sweeney, Associate Professor of Ancient History for her research into ‘Migration and the Making of the Ancient Greek World’.

Dr Mac Sweeney, from our School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “My project is about migration in the ancient Mediterranean. It combines the use of cutting-edge archaeological techniques with the study of ancient texts and documents, and uses tools and models from modern migration studies to develop a radical new vision of human mobility in antiquity. My project argues that the classical world was created neither by colonialism nor by commerce – rather, it was forged through more fluid mobilities and migration more similar to the patterns of human movement that we see around us in the world today.”

ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise. Research must be conducted in a public or private research organisation located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries. The funding (average of €2 million per grant), is provided for up to five years and mostly covers the employment of researchers and other staff to consolidate the grantees' teams.

The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between grantees' pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.