In Adam Smith’s tercentenary year The University of Glasgow will create an ambitious place-based yet globally impactful celebration that extends Smithian ideas into contemporary conversations. Smith is known to the public through a caricature as the apostle of free markets, the founder of capitalism, and the advocate for greed and selfishness. This has allowed some to dismiss him as a narrow thinker. Our project challenges these myths by creating space for influential stakeholders to engage with Smith and his writing, resituating his theories of virtue and commerce in the public consciousness.
Smith@300 will be a unique opportunity to challenge the world’s perceptions of Smith, showcasing the potential for his work to help us address contemporary challenges and improve global lives. Specifically, it will provide the opportunity to (i) expand our understanding of Smith's ideas through new research, (ii) establish a modern character pedagogy that is Smithian in both content and form, and (iii) consider how his work has the potential to inform today’s grand challenges.
To achieve this we ask three questions. First, who was Smith reading as a scholar and how might that have shaped his thinking about philosophy and economics? We will research the only unstudied source material by Smith, the books he owned, making his marginalia available to the public through a permanent digital exhibition. Second, how did Smith shape the character of his students and what can we learn from this? Smith@300 will learn from his methodological approach to develop a pedagogy of a modern character education deployed through reading groups, colloquia, retreats, and an open online course based on Smith’s writings. Finally, what are the Smithian responses to the most pressing issues faced in contemporary societies? We will invite a group of leading international intellectuals to engage with Smith’s work and show how it can address contemporary global challenges.