Aims and Scope

PIUDHIST is an inter-university doctoral programme in which History is viewed from an AAinter-disciplinary point of view. Despite its unique character, History is regarded here as a field of knowledge which cannot do without a permanent cross fertilization with other areas in the humanities and the social sciences. In our vision, this is also why we consider apposite to attach, as a subtitle for this programme, the words “change and continuity in a global world”.

The purpose of the present design is to develop an approach to History which will be broad enough to permit an understanding of the world as it is today and, in particular, of what determines its perennial traits, as well as the changes and the ruptures to which society is constantly exposed. That understanding is not possible without an historical education. This essentially macro vision by no means denies the micro dimension of many of the research topics to which students may be drawn or which teachers in the programme wish to pursue. It considers, however, that narrower lines of analysis ought to be complemented always by an effort to contextualize them and to set them in the appropriate comparative perspective. It also regards as a necessity a high degree of openness to the possibilities offered by different theoretical and methodological streams within History, in order to achieve a truly comprehensive interpretation of historical phenomena.

One of the strong points of PIUDHIST is its goal of creating an active community of students, teachers and researchers, who will thus come to benefit from the reciprocal impact on each other of their respective research undertakings. In fact, a doctoral programme such as this can only make proper sense insofar as it is capable of binding together the efforts of individuals into a structured, wider ensemble.

The taught component of the program, which will take up most of the students’ time during the first two semesters, will provide advanced tuition in a number of fields, some of which may not appear at once as instrumental or even essential to the composition of a particular doctoral dissertation. Our view, however, is that this will enhance the overall historical culture of students and should be therefore an essential part of the training on offer. Apart from what the first year course can furnish in terms of knowledge and tools of analysis with a direct impact on their thesis work, the aim is to deliver something further, which over time will help them to access the métier of the historian in all its fullness.

The course work on offer is organized into four basic thematic axes, of which students will choose two:

  • Social dynamics and political structures
  • Institutions and economic development
  • Empires, colonialism and post-colonialism
  • Intellectual and socio-cultural movements

Each of these themes corresponds to an area of teaching and research for which it is recognized that sufficient expertise exists among faculty members. They are also historiographical domains which are crucial to any serious effort to understand the formation of contemporary societies, their roots in the past, and the processes of continuity and change which have brought them to their present day configuration. Students are thus meant to acquire an ample grounding in social, political and economic history, in the history of colonialism and post colonialism, and in the history of ideas and of cultural and religious movements, but always within a clear conceptual framework and on the basis of a solid methodological backing and a persistent concern for the empirical dimension of the issues studied.

Students enjoy the greatest freedom in their choice of thesis topic and of thematic seminars. At the same time, it is understood that a certain amount of guidance will be provided by the management board of the programme, to ensure that these options, particularly with respect to thesis topics, are relevant, sound and well-motivated, that they focus on original and appropriate source material and that, as far as possible, they include comparative and interdisciplinary components in their plan.

PIUDHIST’s faculty covers a considerable geographical diversity and a wide chronological span. In its first editions, the programme displayed a strong though hardly exclusive focus on the Iberian reality, an option which was shaped by the demand profile of a mostly local student body. In the present proposed form, its goal of reaching a significant degree of internationalization makes it imperative that two new dimensions are put into place. One is to broaden the geographical scope of both the teaching and the supervision provided. The other is to raise considerably the share of course work carried out in the English language. At the same time, the programme plans to seek the collaboration of foreign colleagues, to give courses and to participate in the co-supervision of theses.