Applied History Project

The Applied History Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs is the explicit attempt to illuminate current challenges and choices by analyzing historical precedents and analogues. Mainstream historians begin with an event or era and attempt to provide an account of what happened and why. Applied Historians begin with a current choice or predicament and analyze the historical record to provide perspective, stimulate imagination, find clues about what is likely to happen, suggest possible interventions, and assess probable consequences. The Belfer Center’s Applied History Project aims to address what Niall Ferguson has called the “history deficit” in policymaking. The Project takes a “big tent” approach to vitalizing Applied History in the academy, and to promoting its use in government, business, and other sectors of society.