Frequently Asked Questions

Why is CIAG affiliated with the University of Virginia and its School of Medicine?

That question can best be answered in terms of our geography and history. As the founder of the University, Thomas Jefferson was the architect of its “academical village,” located about 100 miles southwest of Washington D.C.

Jefferson designed the university to be a place where collaborative learning would inform future leaders. In order to do this, Jefferson contacted scholars in Europe and America, yielding international perspectives in philosophy, foreign languages, science, law, medicine and the arts.

It is also a history of leadership, crisis and public preparedness. Although central Virginia produced three founding fathers who went on to become U.S. presidents, Charlottesville has been a witness to enemy detainees in Hessian barracks, a British attack on Monticello, and wounded Confederate soldiers who arrived by train within hours of the First Battle of Bull Run.

CIAG was established in the School of Medicine by Dean Robert Carey in 2002 when he appointed Gregory Saathoff MD Associate Professor of Research in what is now the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. Due to Dr. Saathoff’s appointment and essential elements within CIAG’s scope, which deal with emergency response capacities as well as with elements of human behavior during crises, CIAG resides within the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  Because the School of Medicine shares a keen interest in medical aspects of crisis, CIAG has benefited from working on projects that include the American National Red Cross.

The mission of the University of Virginia’s Critical Incident Analysis Group – to ‘periodically examine the events and the incidents that really affect our democracy, that affect the bonds of trust between government and the public’ – might have been written by our founder, Thomas Jefferson.

While CIAG’s focus on bioterrorism, violence in the schools, and other contemporary threats to our democracy would not have matched Jefferson’s list of concerns, the group’s guiding principles are very similar to his own: preservation of life and the pursuit of truth. – John T. Casteen, III, President, University of Virginia, 1990 – 2010

What role did the 9-11 attacks have in your origin and development?

Although the 9-11 attacks certainly qualify as critical incidents, CIAG was created eight years earlier, and has been located at the University of Virginia since 1997. Even though the 9-11 attacks seem to have produced a cottage industry of terrorism and crisis specialists, a much smaller group of government leaders, managers and first-line responders have long shared a commitment on these issues with researchers and professionals in the private sector.

What opportunities exist for students to work with CIAG?

CIAG has long had a commitment to education of University of Virginia students.  In fact, it has relied on undergraduate and graduate students with Federal Work Study grants to meet some of its day-to-day needs.  CIAG leadership recognizes the importance of engendering leadership experience in students.  U.Va. alumni have spoken with passion about the positive leadership experiences gained from national and international meetings sponsored by CIAG.  With the arrival of Professor Eric Stern from the Swedish National Defence College, students are benefiting from direct guidance relating to crisis leadership and analysis.

Does CIAG operate as a part of a government agency?

Although CIAG at the University of Virginia arose out of the government’s expressed need to reach out to international expertise in times of crisis, it has been multidisciplinary from the beginning, and has received grant and contract funding from a number of federal agencies, in addition to generous gifts from individuals and the private sector.

What are some of CIAG’s collaborative relationships?

Within the University of Virginia, CIAG has collaborated with the Darden School of Business, the School of Law, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Miller Center for Public Affairs, the Department of Emergency Medicine, the Blue Ridge Poison Center, and the Department of Health Evaluation Sciences.

Beyond the University of Virginia, CIAG members have collaborated closely on projects with faculty, including faculty from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University School of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, James Madison University, The George Washington University, George Mason University, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, Swedish National Defence College, King’s College (UK), Queen’s College (UK), and the London School of Economics.

In addition, CIAG has benefited from collaborations with the American National Red Cross, as well as the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.