My dear friend and colleague Nicholas Theocarakis has just pieced together a document outlining the past and present of Political Economy (teaching and research) as practised at the University of Athens (click here)…Unbeknownst perhaps to most outside of Greece, the University of Athens was one of the very first universities to have established a Chair in Political Economy. The year was 1837, decades before such a Chair was instituted at the University of Cambridge or elsewhere for that matter. Since 1837, Political Economy (as distinct from vulgar ‘Economics’) has been taught, without interruption, at the University of Athens’ Division of Political Economy. Even more remarkably, courses in Political Economy have been (and remain) compulsory for all undergraduates taking economics, accounting, business, finance etc. in the University of Athens. Unlike most other universities that churn out economics and business graduates who have never studied the works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Friedrich von Hayek, Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, etc., Athens University students are not allowed to go out into the world without at least a couple of semesters of Political Economy under their belt. I feel a deep sense of pride in this, as a member of the said Faculty, but also of fear that, as Greek universities buckle under the pressures of ‘austerity’, this proud tradition may not survive for much longer. I hope it does. With all my heart.
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