History of Chicago economics

The so-called Chicago school of economics is world famous. Paradoxically, it is often misunderstood. There is no single Chicago school of thought, but a dynamic approach to economic scholarship marked by vigorous disagreement that produces great ideas.

Several academic volumes have tried to explain the great University of Chicago economists, their lasting contributions, and the unique environment that produced these insights—but none have told this story from a true UChicago insider’s perspective. There are rich tales of those who lived the history to be captured and preserved. And there are powerful ideas born here that are now so commonplace they are part of our everyday thinking. Yet their UChicago origins are unknown to many.

The institute is seizing the opportunity to document, define, and share the unique history of the people, ideas, and environment that shaped Chicago economics. We seek core funding to support research and development of compelling content to tell a richer story of the past, present, and future of Chicago economics.

The first phase will be a dynamic, interactive digital installation highlighting these themes. An immersive web site will expand upon the display, encouraging visitors to further explore economic ideas and delve deeper into their origins. An oral history component, archived and shared through the exhibit and web, will capture the stories and reflections of longtime faculty. Future phases may expand the project to encompass a physical exhibit in the Saieh Hall for Economics.

The project will result in prominent, eventually permanent exhibits that attract, engage, and inform visitors and share the origins of powerful Chicago economic thinking with future generations.

Your support can fund the research, creative work, and staffing necessary to

  • develop and install a compelling interactive display and web site;
  • conduct research to document the history;
  • record oral history interviews;
  • identify and preserve artifacts; and
  • continually expand and maintain these interconnected resources.