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Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

An Undergraduate Supper with
Matthew Connelly, Historian from Columbia University

March 20, 2013

As a historian at Columbia University, Matthew Connelly has found that "recent events are supposed to have taught us to doubt whether the past provides any guide to the future"; but he argues in response that those who fail to learn about the past "will eventually become disoriented, trying to find their way without a map or a compass." To counter this growing ideology, Connelly has been working with computer scientists and statisticians to analyze historical information, including the indeterminate amount that is classified [by the government], and to work towards bridging the gap between history and the future of world politics.

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Connelly notes that, "My work seeks to offer new, more productive ways to think about the history—and the future—of world politics. My current research is on planning and predictions, especially for planetary threats like nuclear war and pandemics."

Among Connelly's writings are Fatal Misconception, a book about the disastrous consequences of efforts to control world population (what he has termed "planning other people's families"), and A Diplomatic Revolution, which traces the origins of what some see as a "clash of civilizations" to Algeria's fight to for independence from France.

He has also written about biopolitics, global migration, public health, the politics of environmental change and international security, and many other provocative topics. His courses at Columbia include Hacking the Archive, The End of Empires, The Future of History, and Race and Ethnicity in international Relations.

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