177 years of Political Economy at the University of Athens: a panorama of a little known tradition

University of AthensMy 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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5 Comments

  • As an ex-student of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Athens, this document made me feel really proud of the past and present of the tradition of Political Economy in Greece. I wish all the best to the faculty where I made my first steps in the world of economics, which provided me with the adequate and necessary tools to comprehend its complexity, yet, simultaneously, taught me how to learn and think beyond established and conventional frames of thought.
    Thank you for not shaping my brain in a regular way, but allowing for irrationality, multidisciplinarity, and critical thinking characteristics instead. This will surely accompany me for the rest of my life. I feel deeply honoured and indebted to all faculty members of it, and I wish this tradition to continue. This is up to us, the new generation, and, on behalf of your past students, I hope we will live up to your expectations to continue your precious work.
    Thank you Prof. Varoufakis for bringing this to everyone’s attention.
    Best Regards.

  • I am reminded of George Psachoropolous, one of my brilliant first teachers of economics at the LSE of the 1970s.

    • I opposed the euro when I had to: in the 1990s. An exit now will, more likely than not, bring even greater pain. That is not to say that we should not prepare for it, though.

  • It’s hard to believe it would be permanently worse provided that the odds your clever solution or any other solution aiming at making eurzone sustainable is politically impaired chiefly by Germany but by others too. I know it would be probably worse for Greece than for France and I’m French, not Greek, but I do not wish the end of the euro without considering what it could do to EZ weaker states.