Engelsberg Applied History Programme

Launched in 2018, The Engelsberg Programme for Applied History, Grand Strategy and Geopolitics (EAHP) was originally a partnership between the Centre for Grand Strategy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London and the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University in collaboration with the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit. It is today an integral part of AJI’s efforts in the field of Applied History and historically informed statecraft.

The initiative represents a shared programme of seminars, public lectures and conferences, the creation of a new applied history research agenda and the building of connections with the policy-making world. The Centre for Grand Strategy currently hosts two regular strands of activity. The Applied History Reading Group is an online, informal reading group composed of participants from across the world. Members meet to discuss a particular reading or present papers of relevance to the conception, understanding, or practice of applied history. The reading group has discussed works from J.R. Seeley, Hannah Arendt, Alfred Zimmern, and Immanuel Kant and has provided feedback on papers related to climate histories, techno-determinism and the industrialisation of historical thought.

The second strand is the Engelsberg Applied History Fellows Programme. The programme selects ten undergraduate students for participation in a year-long intensive seminar series aimed at exposing students to the philosophy of history, whilst developing their applied history skills. The first half of the programme teaches students about important debates within philosophy of history, while the second half sees students present their own works of applied history, where they receive feedback from their peers and the convenors of the programme. It is hoped that the students of this programme will take forward these skills into their careers, whether that be in academia, government or the private sector.

The programme’s landmark event each year is the Engelsberg Applied History Lecture, which hosted Prof. Patrick Geoghegan in 2022, who spoke about the life of Martin Mansergh; Prof. Rana Mitter in 2020, with a lecture entitled ‘War and Order: How China is using history to reshape global order and a new nationalism at home’; and Prof. Margaret Macmillan’s inaugural lecture in 2019, entitled ‘War and International Relations’. 2020 also saw the Engelsberg Annual Lecture on International Order, co-hosted with the Centre for Geopolitics, with Dr. Nadia Schadlow giving a lecture entitled ‘Strategy – The Pursuit of Freedom of Action’.