DPI-705: History, Politics, and the Public

Semester: Not Offered

Credit: 1.0

Faculty: Moshik Temkin


Day Time Location
First Day
Meet Day


This course focuses on the ways that history appears in, and influences, the political and public policy worlds. It aims to provide students with an understanding of how historians approach their work, how they make sense of the contemporary world, and how they contribute - directly or indirectly - to central debates and controversies in public policy. Drawing on cases and examples both American and international, the course also focuses on the ways in which policymakers can, do, and should (and should not) make use of history in their professional lives. The rationale for the course is straightforward. Politicians, diplomats, and advisors all draw inferences from the past. So do social scientists. In our daily lives, "historical reasoning" is a critical component of what passes for "common sense." Moreover, beliefs and assumptions about history - often unexamined and sometimes inaccurate - commonly shape public and political perceptions of important issues. Yet trying to understand and articulate what actually happened in the past, and what this might mean for your work and your society in the present, is a tricky affair. In covering such issues as historical memory, morality in history, culture and values, and economic cycles, the core goal of the course is to permit you to become more self-conscious, reflective, and skilled at using and thinking about history in different public policy contexts.

Not offered in 2013-14.