Frequently Asked Questions

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 an international perspective from philosophy, foreign languages, science, law, medicine and the arts. 

It is 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 also 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.  Because of Dr. Saathoff's appointment, and due to essential elements within CIAG's scope which deal with emergency response capacities as well as with elements of human behavior during crisis, 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?