Skip directly to content

About the Initiative

The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH) responds to the growing interest at Harvard in the encompassing study of global history. The Initiative is committed to the systematic scrutiny of developments that have unfolded across national, regional, and continental boundaries as well as to analysis of the interconnections—cultural, economic, ecological and demographic—among world societies. We do not claim that the traditional cadres of historical change and study—some intensely local, some national—are of diminished relevance. But an era of global change has impelled scholars to understand them simultaneously in the broadest spatial scale. Technological diffusion, religious zeal and material aspirations, the ambitions of empire or emancipation, the ramifications of war and the hopes of overcoming it, growing commitments to human rights have connected communities the world over.

Supported by a multi-year grant from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Professors Sven Beckert and Charles Maier have organized the program to strengthen programmatic cohesion for the strength and diversity that the Harvard history and social science departments already bring to global history approaches. WIGH expands upon the Weatherhead Seminar in Global and International History to include a program of fellowships, exchanges, and conferences.

The Weatherhead Initiative funds summer doctoral and undergraduate thesis research within the overall program of Weatherhead Center fellowships. For the academic year 2013–2014 it will bring a small group of post-doctoral researchers to Harvard for a year as WIGH scholars, and Professors Maier and Beckert will organize a for-credit seminar in global history. It will hold a one-day workshop in the fall with papers by recent PhD students on the “global 1930s,” and plans larger conferences on unifying themes in global history in the spring of 2013 and 2014.

The study of world history is global in its pursuit. Research and teaching nuclei have been established in every continent, and the Weatherhead Initiative hopes to become an active participant in this worldwide enterprise. It intends to seek exchanges and position Harvard’s activities in a network of centers devoted to kindred approaches. We invite participation from across the established academic departments in developing this program.