The Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness was founded in 2001 as part of the awarding of the Canada Research Chair in Historical Consciousness to Dr. Peter Seixas. It was active for the following decade and a half, until his retirement in June, 2016.
Dedicated to facilitating research on the understanding and teaching of history, the Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness sponsors research in the field of historical consciousness, serves as a base for Canadian and international scholars, both as researchers and as visiting professors and lecturers, and draws highly promising graduate students to UBC. Jointly located in the Faculties of Education and Arts at the University of British Columbia, the Centre also establishes links with schools, museums, and the broader community for discussion and dissemination of research projects.
The term "historical consciousness" is relatively unfamiliar in North America, though the field is well established in Europe. The study of historical consciousness is distinct from both historical research and historiographic research. The distinction can be seen in this way: when we study history (e.g., researching and writing about John A. Macdonald), we are looking at the past. When we study historical consciousness, we are studying how people look at the past: researching and writing about how various Canadians view John A. Macdonald today, for example, what he does, or does not, mean to them as a "founding father" from their standpoints in a multicultural, globalizing, regionalized, gender-conscious 21st century. The study of historical consciousness differs, as well, from historiography, which examines only how historians look at the past. Historical consciousness can thus be defined as individual and collective understandings of the past, the cognitive and cultural factors which shape those understandings, as well as the relations of historical understandings to those of the present and the future.