New Center at Duke University Studies the History of Economic Theories

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Duke Today reports on the arrival of a new academic center on Duke University’s campus devoted to studying the historical juncture between politics and economics. The academic center was made possible by grants from the John William Pope Foundation:

The current economic turbulence has prompted news reports filled with terms such as fiscal stimulus, monetary policy and market stabilization. Such concepts are easy to take for granted, but they represent ideas developed and debated about over the last 300 years. A new center at Duke studies the history of these economic theories.

 “We have these popular images and sound bites about what famous economists like Adam Smith and Karl Marx thought, but what were they really saying, in the context of the time that they were saying it?” said Bruce Caldwell, the director of the newly created Center for the History of Political Economy (HOPE) at Duke. “Typically, many of the issues that they viewed as important then are issues that are being debated, albeit perhaps in different ways, today.”

For students, Caldwell said the study of the history of economics can be a link between the technical study of economics and a broader liberal arts education.