Nobel Memorial Prize Winner to Highlight Adam Smith Week at CofC

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

A panel discussion featuring Nobel Memorial Prize winner Vernon Smith will highlight the College of Charleston’s Adam Smith Week starting on March 20, 2017.

Sponsored by the Center for Public Choice and Market Process, Adam Smith Week is a series of lectures and panel discussions designed to create awareness and explore important topics in political economy, entrepreneurship, and the role of government.

A complete schedule of events can be found here.

Adam Smith Week has been a popular series in the School of Business since it was first established in 2008.  The College Today caught up with Peter Calcagno, economics professor and the  Director of the Center for Public Choice and Market Process, to ask about the establishment of Adam Smith Week and his thoughts on this upcoming program..

 Why did you decide to establish Adam Smith Week nine years ago?

Adam Smith week began with the Center for Public Choice & Market Process. We thought it would be a great opportunity to provide events for the community as outreach, for students to gain exposure to the field of economics and to recruit students to the major.

Why do you think that Adam Smith’s writings and theories are still very relevant today?

Adam Smith was interested in the reality of how the world works.  His theories were based on his observations of the world around him. He was part an important movement, the Scottish Enlightenment, that helped establish classical liberal ideas.  Smith’s insights were into human behavior in the context of the institutions that they operate, and how do we create institutions that will improve human well-being given our human nature.

 What is your goal as you plan the agenda for Adam Smith Week?

To bring interesting people to campus that will have something important to talk with the students and the community about that is relevant and thought

provoking. Our mission is to make the students, faculty and community aware of the benefits of a free society and how Adam Smith’s ideas and traditions fit into our current issues, which are not that different from the issue Smith addressed in his day. The week provides an intensive opportunity to gain exposure to free market ideas, and create a conversation among the community. It is a way for us to bring together all the activities of the Center together for a week.

Vernon Smith, the winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences will be part of the program this year.  How will he be participating? 

Vernon Smith (who has no relation to Adam Smith) will be part of a panel, with his colleague Bart Wilson from Chapman University. The panel will be moderated by Calvin Blackwell, Chair of the Department of Economics.  The panel will discuss why Smith began testing simple theories in experiments and how this developed into the field of experimental economics. Overtime Smith kept returning to Adam Smith’s work and testing the concepts from the Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. Each panelist will give an overview of their work and then we ask them to answer a few questions than open it up for Q&A.  It is a great opportunity for our students to interact with leaders in the field of experimental economics and the overall discipline.

What are some of the other highlights of the week? 

Bart Wilson is a protégé of Vernon Smith and to see how he is continuing this work is very impressive. Virgil Storr and Dwight Lee both venture into the ideas of how and why markets provide a moral foundation to society. We try to get individuals to think about the benefits of markets beyond our simple supply and demand concepts.