The Centre for Economics, Policy and History combines Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, two institutions with existing clusters of research excellence in economic history on the island of Ireland. This new research hub, funded by the North South Research Programme of the Government of Ireland, helps both universities increase their capacity and enables them to lead the development of Ireland into a global Centre of Excellence in policy-relevant historical research.
The multidisciplinary field of economic history combines theories and methods from economics to answer historical questions about the long-run development of society. In addition to the importance of studying the past for its own sake, economic historians use the past as a laboratory to test economic ideas, explain how institutions work, understand the relevant context for conditions today, and measure the efficacy of competing public policies. In short, insights from economic history can help policymakers make better policy choices in the present. There is significant demand for training and expertise in economic history from university students and graduate employers.
But this demand is not currently being met. Around the world, undergraduate curricula in both economics and history lack economic history content, in part because a generation of academic economists and historians were not themselves exposed to the field in a meaningful way. This is unfortunate as understanding the deep historical roots of major challenges like global inequalities and climate change can help policymakers to address their consequences. Taking history seriously can significantly enrich the study of economics, and help it deliver policy outputs relevant to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Centre for Economics, Policy and History will play a leading role in contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by combining economics with history to address global challenges, building a durable research and teaching infrastructure, and engaging in targeted outreach activities. The Centre has three pillars:
Using historical events to understand contemporary economic trends and institutions on the island and across the globe.
Digitization, collection and analysis of historical data to train new generations of researchers.
Providing crucial context to modern-day decision makers in government, business, and NGOs, drawing on a rich historical record.