University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith 300th awarded John Templeton Foundation funding 

University of Glasgow

THE University of Glasgow has been awarded a prestigious John Templeton Foundation Grant for its 300th anniversary celebration of Adam Smith’s birth. 

Throughout 2023, the University will mark the tercentenary of its famous alumnus and the founder of modern economics, with a raft of events and programmes designed to inspire renewed discussion about Smith’s ideas. 

The philanthropic organisation has awarded the University £970,000 for the “Smith@300: Celebrating Adam Smith as Scholar, Educator, and Citizen” project.

The grant will fund the development of a Global Reading Group that will study Smith’s seminal book, The Wealth of Nations. This will provide academics, alumni, students and the public with the opportunity to join together as a global community to read, examine and discuss Smith’s work, and how it relates to today’s society and challenges. 

The University will also appoint eight Templeton Adam Smith Tercentenary Fellows, host a one-day conference exploring Smith’s views on ethics and business, and develop an online learning course (or Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ) on ‘Adam Smith and Commercial Virtue’. The next generation of Smith scholars will be supported through Post-Doctoral Fellowships and an Early Career Scholar Fund.

Additionally, the funding will be used to support a social media campaign that will introduce Smith to a broad public audience, bringing his learning into dialogue with contemporary debates and challenges. 

Dr Craig Smith, Adam Smith Senior Lecturer in the Scottish Enlightenment at the University of Glasgow, led the grant bid. He said: 

“Our aim with the tercentenary is not only to celebrate the work, life and impact of this pioneering Scot, but also to bring Adam Smith into conversations about the problems we are facing as a society today. Engaging with Smith’s ideas through the 2023 tercentenary programme will enable us to learn more about him as an educator, citizen and scholar, and the impact he had in these roles.

“The University of Glasgow, as Adam Smith’s intellectual home and a seat of learning, is a fitting location to highlight how his legacy as the founder of modern economics is as relevant today as it was during his lifetime.

“We look forward to taking part in the University’s commemoration of a true world changer, and to considering how his thoughts and ideas help us answer the challenges of today and to partnering with others who are marking Smith’s anniversary across the world.

“We are grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for awarding us this grant that will help us to explore Adam Smith’s ideas in his tercentenary year and contribute to his ambition of building a more just, freer, and prosperous world.”

The John Templeton Foundation was founded in honour of eminent American-British scientist Sir John Templeton, whose work focused on how science might be harnessed to make similar progress in understanding the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind. The Foundation aspires to fulfil Templeton’s vision to become a global catalyst for discoveries that contribute to human flourishing, and offers grants in support of research and public engagement in its major funding areas.

Smith’s work has had a lasting impact on the way the world considers economics, politics and society more broadly. The University of Glasgow’s tercentenary commemoration includes a host of events in Scotland and around the world, designed to inspire renewed discussion about Smith’s ideas.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of Glasgow, said: 

“Adam Smith left an indelible mark on the University of Glasgow, economics and the world. His studies and writings introduced new ideas, insights and concepts that are taken for granted today but were revolutionary in their day.

“It is a privilege for the University to be so closely associated with Adam Smith and the plans we have to celebrate his tercentenary will see academics, students and the public discuss his relevance to today in events across the world.”

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