History Lab

Significant demand exists for history: students, private-sector businesspeople, and government officials all value the lessons from diplomatic and military history, financial and economic history, international and global history, and technological and leadership history. But supply falls short: many traditional academic history departments are not meeting the demand for consequential history and meaningful historical analysis.

The Hoover History Lab addresses this mismatch between demand and supply. Modeled after successful science laboratories, the lab will take a flexible umbrella structure, organized around high-powered research projects. With Hoover’s formidable constellation of historians known both for their scholarly achievements and their deep policy connections, the lab will advance historical knowledge and apply it to contemporary global challenges as well as those looming on the horizon.

As such, the lab is not a traditional academic department but instead functions as a hub for research, teaching, and convening—in person and online, in the classroom and in print. The lab studies and uses history to inform public policy, develops next-generation scholars, and reinforces the work of Hoover’s world-class historians to inform scholarship and the teaching of history at Stanford and beyond.

The lab’s work is driven by its principal investigators, who spearhead research and research-based policy projects. The lab also encompasses a strong cohort of “staff scientist-equivalents”: fellows, senior fellows, research fellows, national security and military fellows, and others who participate in the research projects. The lab also incorporates postdoctoral scholars as research and teaching fellows, as well as students, especially undergraduates, who participate in leading-edge research, just as in a scientific laboratory. This full-range approach to personnel, at all levels of age and experience, ensures that the mission of the lab carries forward into the future and across to other institutions.

The Hoover History Lab will launch with three main research projects:

  • History Working Group, led by principal investigator Niall Ferguson, which seeks to apply historical research to contemporary policy challenges;
  • Military History in Contemporary Conflict Working Group, led by principal investigator Victor Davis Hanson, which applies historical analysis to contemporary challenges in national security; and
  • Global Futures: History, Statecraft, Systems, a new project led by principal investigator Senior Fellow Stephen Kotkin that offers both a research program on the world’s geopolitical historical roots and trajectory and a framework for adding new research projects at Hoover.

The opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hoover Institution or Stanford University.

© 2024 by the Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University.

Stephen Kotkin

Stephen Kotkin

Kleinheinz Senior Fellow

Stephen Kotkin is a Hoover senior fellow and a Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University. In addition to conducting research in the Hoover Library and Archives for three decades, he is also founder of Princeton’s Global History Initiative. Kotkin’s research and publications encompasses geopolitics and authoritarian regimes in history and in the present, and he has also participated in numerous National Intelligence Council events over the years.  

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

Milbank Family Senior Fellow

Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. He is the author of sixteen books, including Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe. He is a renowned historian of finance, war, and international relations, having written The Pity of War, The House of Rothschild, Empire, Civilization, and Kissinger, 1923–1968: The Idealist, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize.

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; his focus is classics and military history.

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