I embraced the academic field after a career in policy, strategy and government affairs. I did my PhD on using history in public policy development, having completed my BA and MPhil degrees in History at Clare College, Cambridge. I founded the Public History Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in London and I serve as a juror for the new national Public History prize. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and I am currently serving as the Society's Honorary Director of Communications. Joining the Essex History department represents my second return to my home town of Colchester. I blog about history, higher education and public life at www.thehistoricalimperative.com.
My research is broadly concerned with questions of identity, citizenship and the public-political sphere in modern Britain and Europe. I have been particular interested in the roles and responsibilities of historians in public life, taking contemporary politics and policymaking as a context for historical practice. My recent book, History, Policy and Public Purpose: Historians and Historical Thinking in Government, takes this as its focus, drawing on notions of public scholarship, expertise and the nature of historical thinking. My work aims to blur the boundaries between disciplines and to emphasise the complementarity of different forms of knowledge. The other main strand of mywork is on citizenship and how the claims to political rights are made; here, mywork focuses on the history of European Jews, particular the Jewish press.
I am currently working on a collaborative project with the John Lewis Partnership Heritage Centre, looking at the Partnership's historical approach to pay and performance to inform how the business approaches these strategies in the future. As part of this, I am working on academic writing projects on industrial democracy in post-war Britain.