International History

Although “globalization” became a buzzword during the 1990s, the phenomenon of global interconnectedness is nothing new. From the Silk Road and the Roman Empire to the globalizing technologies and multinational organizations of our own era, history has been shaped by patterns of encounter across the borders of nations and empires. Reflecting Yale’s multifaceted approach to international history, this pathway offers international, transnational, regional, and global perspectives on the past. Courses examine classic questions of international relations, diplomacy, and war and peace. When and why did the nation-state emerge as the world’s dominant form of political organization? How do we explain the origins and legacies of wars? Which foreign policies have been most effective in ensuring international stability, and why? How and why did some nations become more powerful than others? What types of strategies did they employ in attaining and wielding global power—and how was their power challenged?
In approaching such questions, Yale historians also emphasize the cultural, social, intellectual, and economic dimensions of global history. Indeed, the courses in this pathway are fundamentally about the crossing of borders; they focus not only on relations between sovereign states, but also on encounters across or even within geopolitical boundaries. In addition to diplomacy and international relations, topics of study include (but are not limited to) the world economy, migration and diaspora, cultural exchanges, technologies, colonialism and post-colonialism, the role of non-governmental organizations in the international system, and transnational histories of race, gender, and sexuality. By providing historical perspectives on such topics, this pathway enables students to understand the origins of international crises, to contextualize current debates about foreign policy, and—ultimately—to develop a broader and deeper comprehension of the globalized world in which we live.