I am very pleased to announce some great news for me, for Queen's University Belfast, and for economic history: we have just been awarded a multi-million euro grant jointly with Trinity College Dublin to establish a new All-Ireland Centre of Excellence in Economics, History and Policy. This means we will soon be starting to hire an army of predocs, PhDs, postdocs, lecturers, policy professionals and project administrators based in Belfast and Dublin.
The multidisciplinary field of economic history combines theory and methods from economics to answer historical questions about the long-run development of society. In addition to the importance of studying the past in its own right, 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 in economic history from university students and graduate employers. But as readers of An Economist's Guide to Economic History know, 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.
Together with Trinity College Dublin, Queen's University Centre of Economic History has just been awarded a 3.8 million euro grant to address this challenge. The four-year grant will help to establish a new All-Ireland Centre of Excellence in Economics, History and Policy. This new research hub leverages the existing strengths of both institutions by helping us to increase our capacity and enable us to lead the development of Ireland into a global centre of excellence in policy-relevant historical research.
Aside from hiring a team of new colleagues interested in pursuing economic history research and teaching, this grant will allow us to set up new online data resources, organise academic workshops, design and deliver CPD modules, run targeted outreach activities and establish high-quality knowledge exchanges with government policymakers and business leaders. I even hope it will give me some time to update An Economist's Guide with new content! Overall, this is an exciting opportunity for us at Queen's and our colleagues at Trinity.
The All-Ireland Centre will be launched in September 2022. I will keep you posted when we start advertising positions. More details are here.
Chris Colvin is an economic historian based at Queen’s University Belfast, UK.