July 18, 2023

Adam Smith, the ‘father of modern economics’, turns 300

Arguably one of the most influential, and also misrepresented, writers of the Scottish Enlightenment, Adam Smith’s legacy has endured.

The University of Glasgow (UofG) celebrated Adam Smith Tercentenary Week in June 2023, held on the 300th anniversary of Adam Smith’s birthday. Named by politicians as the father of modern economics, Adam Smith largely considered himself a moral philosopher, and lectured on logic and moral philosophy at the UofG. 

Tercentenary Week was the focal point of a series of commemorative events being held over the course of 2023 (Adam Smith 300), reflecting on the life and legacy of one of UofG’s most famous alumni and faculty. Adam Smith 300 activities are shaped around three themes: Smith as Scholar, Smith as Educator, and Smith as Citizen.

As part of Tercentenary Week, UofG invited high profile speakers and guests to Glasgow for a week of commemorative events to mark Adam Smith’s birthday, including open workshop sessions, a symposium, an exhibition in the university library, a student competition, and a series of lectures.

These lectures included: 

  • The power and perils of the “artificial hand”: Considering AI through the ideas of Adam Smith – Gita Gopinath, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, presented the first lecture for Tercentenary Week. Her lecture focused on artificial intelligence, and what Adam Smith’s response would have been, if he were alive today
  • Adam Smith: The first true liberal – Professor Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics and of History, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discussed the influence of Adam Smith, his views as a deeply egalitarian man, and why she considers him the first true liberal
  • Economic failure or failure of economics? – Sir Angus Deaton, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, held a conversation with the audience on whether economics is failing to grapple with some of the major policy issues facing society and what we can learn from Adam Smith.

The Herald in Scotland also ran a series of articles during Tercentenary Week:

Continuing with Adam Smith 300, the Smith Around the World Lecture Series sees universities around the world undertaking their own events.