About Us


The Social Science History Program (SSHP) began in 1997 as the Social Science History Institute under the guidance of its present diretor, Steve Haber. An interdepartmental program, SSHP seeks to transplant state-of-the-art research methods from across the boundaries of each discipline in order to re-engineer the manner in which students in social science departments learn about historical institutions and historical data and the manner in which students in history are trained in social science methods. In short, the program seeks to reinvigorate an approach to historical social science that stresses logical consistency, the specification of falsifiable hypotheses, and the careful and unbiased examination of both quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Transforming Research Experiences for Graduate and Undergraduate Students

SSHP employs a natural science lab group model for resesarch and instruction involving graduate and undergraduate students.  Within this setting, students work in teams with faculty advisors to conduct interdisciplinary analyses of political and economic systems.  Teams are veritcally integrated, providing research experiences for the students in collecting primary data and participating in data analysis. Outcomes for students have included: 

  • Career-building opportunities to partner with faculty on presenting research findings 
  • Distinguished awards (e.g., National Science Foundation fellowship, Rhodes scholarship)

Research Programs

The Political Economy of Finance explores the causes of financial development and their long term role in economic growth. This project brings together faculty from numerous institutions, practitioners from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with Stanford undergraduate students.

The Democracy Project seeks to understand how democratically less developed countries transition their economies and political systems to join those that are more advanced. A series of research programs explore these issues, including the Citizen Competence Project, Mexico's Democratization, and the Political Economy of Taxation.

The Myth of the Resource Curse employs historical data on oil and mineral producing countries to determine the effects of such production on economic and political development. Two faculty members and two graduate students have taken the lead on answering the question: does oil hinder democracy?

Classics and the Social Sciences is a program within SSHP that focuses on building strong ties to the Classics Department. The goal is to enrich research done in the Classics by bringing to bear the analytic methods of the social sciences, and to enrich the research done in the social sciences by bringing to bear evidence and cases from antiquity.  An example of this collaboration is the joint Classics and SSHP/IRiSS study in which discoveries from a major archeological excavation in Italy are examined to explore the full impact of Greek colonization on a native village in Sicily.

Sponsored Activities and Publication

In addition to the organization of research programs, SSHP also provides support to Stanford seminars that have significant social science history components.  The program also regularly sponsors conferences highlighting the work of our affiliated faculty and scholars from other universities, as they explore the connections between history and the social sciences. SSHP has also created a venue for the publication of scholarly research in social science history through the Stanford Studies in Social Science History series of the Stanford University Press.

Contact Information

Social Science History Program
Stanford University
450 Serra Mall, Building 370
Stanford CA 94305-2077
Phone (650) 723-1466
E-mail: toney@stanford.edu