March 30, 2016

The Georgetown Institute for Global History: Innovating New Historical Perspectives

Nearly eight years after its establishment, the Georgetown Institute for Global History (GIGH) is still advancing new pathways for historical dialogue.

Since 2008, GIGH has facilitated seminar series and workshops that explore global perspectives across all fields of history.

In February 2016, thanks to a grant from the Office of the Vice President for Global Engagement, GIGH launched its newest seminar series, ‘Theory and Practice: Humanities in the World.'

On April 8, 2016 the last event in the series for the 2015-2016 academic year will take place at 6:00 p. m. in the ICC Auditorium. The conversation will address academic freedom in a global context. Each panelist will speak to challenges to the free pursuit of academic research, expression, and pedagogy in different contexts around the world, from Egypt and India to Texas, in the wake of a law allowing guns on public university campuses. 

History: A Greater, Global Whole

GIGH director and professor Aviel Roshwald says the institute was founded in the belief that globalization today has roots that stretch far beyond the developments of the last 30 years. Designing nuanced policies to address issues associated with globalization is complicated and impeded by a general lack of historical knowledge, he says.

GIGH seeks to remedy this by sponsoring historical debates that deepen understanding across disciplines.

“The overall thrust is to explore themes and trends and dynamics that transcend regional confines,” says Roshwald. “But we’re not doctrinaire about it. There is still plenty of room for regional studies alongside transnational and global perspectives on history.”

Centralizing Scholarship with a Global Perspective

GIGH is unique in the breadth of scholarship that it supports, which is reflected in the quantity and variety of its events.

"We have over 50 seminars just this academic year alone, with eight different [seminar] series,” explains GIGH coordinator Sara Keck. “On top of that our GIGH funds also provide support to one-off history seminars that aren’t necessarily under those unique seminar series.”

The eight series currently running include the China Studies Speakers series (funded by the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown, with support from the Offices of the Provost and the Vice President for Global Engagement), the African History Seminar Series, and the International History Seminar Series (co-sponsored by the Mortara Center for International Studies). 

Building a Scholarly Community beyond Georgetown, at Georgetown 

GIGH fosters community within its events through networking between the audience and the speakers. “Seminars focus on give and take between speaker and audience,” says Roshwald. “It does create a forum where graduate students from various programs can interact with a range of prominent scholars in a variety of fields.”

The institute promotes interdisciplinary dialogue by co-sponsoring events with other Georgetown centers and departments, and through GIGH events held by speakers from other disciplines outside of history, such as sociology and political science.

“We have active participation, sponsorship, and input by a number of different centers and units on campus outside of history,” explains Roshwald.

According to Roshwald, the institute makes a regular effort to bring audience members from other area institutions to its events as well.

Keck used an Africa series event held in December 2015 as an example.

“[The audience] came from William and Mary, they came from Howard University, all over the D.C. and surrounding areas,” she said. GIGH will continue to host a variety of events throughout the spring 2016 semester.

See a complete list of events and speaker series here.