University Of Glasgow celebrates Adam Smith tercentenary

The University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School is marking the 300th anniversary of pioneering Scot Adam Smith with a year-long celebration of his life, work and influence, reports Colette Doyle

The tercentenary commemoration of ‘the father of economics’ includes a host of events in Scotland and around the world, designed to inspire renewed discussion about Smith’s ideas.  

Smith’s work has had a lasting impact on the way the world considers economics, politics and society more broadly. The planned programme aims to consider how his ideas from 300 years ago can help answer some of the biggest challenges we face today.  

Throughout 2023 the University of Glasgow and the Adam Smith Business School has a raft of programmes and events that will give academics, students and the public new insights into the famed economist’s life and work.   

Highlights include the following events:

  • Tercentenary Week – a week-long series of activities, including talks and exhibitions, to be held in June at the University of Glasgow, featuring scholars from the London School of Economics, the universities of Princeton and Harvard and the University of Cambridge  
  • An on-campus and virtual exhibition of significant and rare Smith-related artifacts – including letters, first edition books and material from the University of Glasgow’s archives
  • The Adam Smith Tercentenary Global Lecture series, featuring internationally renowned speakers from academia, business and public policy
  • New research into Smith’s life and writing
  •  The Royal Economic Society and Scottish Economic Society’s joint conference in April, featuring academics from around the world reflecting upon Smith’s legacy.  

Other activities involve a national student competition to re-design the front cover of Smith’s most famous book, The Wealth of Nations, online courses for adult learners and new programmes to introduce high school students to Adam Smith and his ideas. Universities from across the globe, in North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia, will be joining in the commemorations with their own events to mark the tercentenary.   

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “Adam Smith is one of our most famous alumni and he left an indelible impact on the University of Glasgow, on the fields of economics and moral philosophy, and on the wider world. His studies and writings introduced new ideas, insights and concepts that shaped our understanding of economics today, but were revolutionary in their day.   

 “To mark the tercentenary of his birth we will see academics, students and the public discuss his continued relevance at a series of events taking place in Glasgow and across the world.   

“I look forward to taking part in the university’s commemoration of Adam Smith as we evaluate his legacy and consider how his thoughts and ideas from 300 years ago can still help us answer the greatest challenges of today.”   

Smith, born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in June 1723 started his studies at the University of Glasgow aged 14. In 1740, he was awarded the Snell Scholarship, which is still in existence today, and left to study at Oxford. In 1751, Smith returned to Glasgow as a professor of Logic, later becoming professor of Moral Philosophy.   

While at Glasgow, Smith published the first edition of The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759, developing upon the principles and concepts explored in his lectures.  

Smith’s final connection with the university came in 1787 when he assumed the prominent position of rector. He published arguably his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations in 1776 and died in 1790.  

A new website has been developed as part of the university’s official celebrations and you can find out more about Adam Smith’s life and work, as well as the events and lecture series, here.  

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