Understanding history is essential for effective policy-making.
Historical awareness enables leaders to assess past experiences and learn from ill-conceived policies. History has the potential to provide policymakers with a deeper sense of perspective, an appreciation of past patterns and the wisdom to implement more effective policies for the future. This potential is, however, to a large extent neglected by policymakers. On the one hand, politicians, diplomats and young leaders are not adequately trained to understand history. On the other hand, historians are isolated from policymakers, and academic institutions do not produce research that is accessible and readily available for practitioners.
The History and Policy-Making Initiative, jointly operated by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), seeks to create the conditions for a more historically-informed policy-making in the future. Benefiting from its location in International Geneva, the initiative brings together high-level academics and practitioners with a view to strengthen the important interface between the study of international history and the practice of international policy-making.
Going beyond the study of isolated case studies, the History and Policy-Making Initiative wants to facilitate a more long-term, comprehensive and systematic use of history in the making of policy. Building such a platform to bridge the gap between the research and policy communities requires reaching out to historians and practitioners across sectors and generations.
Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou (Deputy Director of the GCSP and Adjunct Professor at IHEID) and Professor Jussi Hanhimaki (Professor of International History at IHEID) lead the initiative, Dr Barbara Zanchetta (Senior Researcher at the International History Department of IHEID) is its coordinator and Dr Petri Hakkarainen is her counterpart at the GCSP.
>> Watch Margaret MacMillan from the Graduate Institute speak about the uses of history