Adam Smith 300-year anniversary

Throughout 2023, the University of Glasgow, along with key partners in the UK and internationally, are hosting a series of events to celebrate the tercentenary of founding RSE Fellow Adam Smith.

Adam Smith was a hugely influential Scottish political economist and philosopher, best known for his most influential work and volume, Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations – the book now known as The Wealth of Nations. In it, he argued that free trade and individual enterprise providing abundant goods and services are the basis of a successful economy. Today he is considered the father of modern economics and is the most famous former student of the University of Glasgow.

This year marks the 300th anniversary of Adam Smith, providing exciting opportunities to reframe and contextualise Smith and his work against a 21st-century backdrop. Through this, the University of Glasgow aims not only to commemorate his work, life and impact, but to bring his world-changing ideas into conversations about the problems we face in society today.

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In 1783, Adam Smith became a founding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The first meeting took place in the Old Library of Edinburgh University on Monday 23 June 1783. It was decided that all members of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh should automatically become Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Its inception included 179 founding members of the Society who could be defined as the ‘founding Fellows’, including Smith, who died seven years later in 1790.

A focal point of the anniversary will be the University of Glasgow’s Tercentenary Week, 5–10 June, providing an opportunity to hear some of the world’s most prestigious speakers on Adam Smith’s legacy. Participants will enjoy commemorative activities including displays of Adam Smith artefacts from the University of Glasgow collections, a public event with academics and policymakers, a student conference, tours and workshops. World class speakers will include Gita Gopinath, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nobel Prize winner and Corresponding RSE Fellow Professor Angus Deaton, and Deirdre Nansen McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The week will conclude with a Symposium on 10 June, where international scholars and practitioners will bring Smith into conversation with contemporary issues. Keynote speakers and panellists include Professor Sir John Kay FRSE (Financial Times), Professor Diane Coyle (Cambridge), Professor Anne Case (Princeton) and Professor Benjamin Friedman (Harvard). Participants will also enjoy commemorative events including an event to mark Smith’s christening at the Old Kirk in Kirkcaldy, tours of key Smith locations (including Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh), and an academic workshop in partnership with the RSE. Join us as we celebrate his legacy and apply his wisdom to challenges in the 21st century.

Dr Craig Smith, Adam Smith Senior Lecturer in the Scottish Enlightenment, is the intellectual lead of Adam Smith 300, and Professor Graeme Roy FRSE, Dean of External Engagement, provides support across all the strands of the University of Glasgow’s Smith tercentenary project.

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Dr Craig Smith, Adam Smith Senior Lecturer in the Scottish Enlightenment, The University of Glasgow
Professor Graeme Roy FRSE, Dean of External Engagement, The University of Glasgow

To find out more about the full programme and register for events, visit the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith 300 programme and see #AdamSmith300

To contact the Adam Smith 300 project board about potential collaborations or with questions, please email adamsmith300@glasgow.ac.uk

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