GEHN is an international network of some 49 academics with credentials in several disciplines (history, economics, economic history, anthropology, geography, sociology) and affiliated to universities in Britain, Holland, Italy, Germany, the United States, Turkey, India and Japan.
Thanks to funding from the Leverhulme Trust, a network has been in operation since 2003 to promote research, teaching and co-operation in the innovatory and rising field of global economic history. As historians, participants in GEHN share a common 'agenda' to refine historical consciousness among students, colleagues and readerships of their subject. Most people's historical sensibility remains limited in time to the generations of their parents and grandparents; in scope to the cultures they inhabit and is understandably prone to favour states and nations that provide them with personal and common identities.
Global history seeks to broaden and deepen people's understanding of themselves, their cultures and their states by extending the geographical spaces and lengthening the chronologies that most historians normally take into their narratives and analyses.
Aspirations to transcend the confines of personal, local, national and European history go back to Herodotus and were certainly present in histories published in the medieval era of Christendom. They blossomed in secular form during the Enlightenment, almost disappeared during the centuries which witnessed the Rise of the West, but have revived again during recent decades of intensified globalization and multiculturalism.
The mission to include and strengthen global economic history in national systems of higher education is shared by all participants in GEHN. Economic history has, moreover, long been a bridge subject between humanities and social sciences premised on the recognition of a large universal fact; namely that for millennia most people in most places have been preoccupied with obtaining the food, shelter, clothing and manufactured artefacts required to sustain a basic and, only latterly, an agreeable standard of living.
Global economic history proclaims the need for long chronological and wide geographical perspectives (as well as the recruitment of theories and insights acquired from the natural and social sciences) in order to represent its preoccupation with material life and to analyse the divergence in productivities and standards of living across time and space.
All members of GEHN anticipate that a co-ordinated programme of workshops, teaching fellowships and a research project, focussed upon a global industry, will leave those involved with the enhanced intellectual capacities, teaching skills and missionary zeal required to take this innovatory enterprise in economic history up to higher levels of scholarly excellence. They aim to strengthen the field's prestige and prospects within national systems of higher education and thereby transform the way history is conceived and taught in universities and schools.