The Department of History, Economics and Society promotes an interdisciplinary approach to analysing the economy that is deeply rooted both in the social sciences and in history. In keeping with the tradition of economic history at the University of Geneva, the department focuses on the long-term study of economic activities and institutions. In addition, the department offers students a pluralistic view of the economy, using concepts and methods from economics and other social sciences, to understand how economies are embedded in the broader structures and dynamics of human societies. The Institute is actively involved in research in economic history with an emphasis on comparative and international perspectives.

This research is financed by a variety of external sources, notably grants awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Members of the Institute, as well as PhD students, present regularly their preliminary results during the staff seminar. The research seminar of the Institute (founded 1970), as well as (since 2012) the Geneva History Seminar,have brought many prominent social and economic historians to Geneva. The breadth of the themes discussed in these regular sessions is a testimony to the manifold facets of economic history as a field of intellectual inquiry. The Institute is also a member of the Maison de l'histoire, the University of Geneva consortium for historical research, and participates in the Western Switzerland doctoral program in contemporary history (Programme doctoral en histoire contemporaine, PDHC).