Can we write a history of the near future? Are human societies in some sense predictable? Specifically, can we really understand why nation-states sometimes experience periods of declining socio-political resilience and stability, often resulting in social breakdown? Even more importantly, can we understand how societies recover from periods of internal upheaval/intense political violence and re-establish communal cohesion and social cooperation? Seshat: Global History Databank are employing a unique combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches to the study of history to forecast a series of probabilistic scenarios of social collapse and recovery. Our team will investigate the anatomy of collapse and recovery in a smaller subset of case-studies. We focus not only on demographic and economic trends, but also on the study of public sentiments, such as moral outrage, resentment, fear, and enthusiasm, that fuel social protest. Behind such sentiments there are concrete, identifiable narratives, symbols and ideas, which make communities “tick.” The CrisisDB Research Programme houses a number of research projects investigating different dimensions of the dynamics of societal crisis and recovery, from edited volumes collecting analytic narratives of specific historical cases, to major research projects analyzing macro-level patterns, to the development of a modelling framework and scenario-exploration tool-kit to assess the likely pathways that future crises are likely to take and to explore the possible outcomes of various proposed interventions.
CrisisDB Research Projects
Consequences of Crisis: Tipping the Scales of Societal Dynamics Towards Less Catastrophic Outcomes From Major Global Stressors, funded by a generous grant from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, seeks to learn history’s lessons through a rigorous assessment of past cases of crises, documenting the range of outcomes that societies have experienced.
Exploring Polycrises in the Past & Present aims to expand the insights gained analyzing the past cases of societal crises by tracing the dynamics of crises in a number of modern and contemporary societies across the globe. Along with exploring the influence of internal structural pressures, we will look particularly into the potential role that shifts in regional climate and local ecological shocks (droughts, floods, earthquakes, etc) have in instigating or accelerating destabilizing outcomes during periods of crisis.