Alumni in Focus: Geoff Harcourt

This month’s Alumni in Focus is Professor Emeritus Geoff Harcourt, AC Reader in the History of Economic Theory, Emeritus, University of Cambridge, Emeritus Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge and Professor Emeritus, University of Adelaide. Professor Harcourt has a long association with the University’s economics department: first as a student and then as a teacher. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)  in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his service to higher education as economist and author.

What are your hobbies?
Sketching in charcoal

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide
The Barbeque Inn at Hindley Street – it has the best T-bone steak in Adelaide and we frequently take overseas visitors there.

If I could go back to my University days I would have…
Done as I did then!

Most prized possession
A cricket bat signed by all the Cambridge economists (with Joah Robinson and Aubrey Silberston opening the batting) and ancillary staff, presented to me when I left Cambridge at the end of 1966 to return to Adelaide.

Something that makes you smile
Modern parents taking pleasure in their kids.

Something for which you are grateful
For Joan’s wonderful selfless love and support over our 63 years of marriage.

If I could pursue a different career I would…
 … there is nothing else I could have done.

The most valuable lesson I have learned
To use whatever talents you have to the full. At the Memorial service for Sir Austin Robinson University of Cambridge economist, I read The Parable of the Talents – Austin could not abide those people who did not use their talents to the full.

I cannot get through the day without
Two cups of coffee without milk or sugar.

Three words your closest friends would use to describe you
My great friend and colleague at Cambridge, the late Richard Goodwin, wrote in a tribute to me in one of my Festschrift volumes that I was “so genuinely friendly”. (A Festschrift is a collection of writings presented to honour a scholar.)

Your career path in two sentences or less…..
Adelaide, Cambridge, Adelaide, Cambridge, UNSW.

Biggest career highlight
I have had several including, being appointed a lecturer in Economics at Adelaide in 1958, being appointed a University Lecturer at Cambridge in 1963 and being made an AC in Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2018.

2018 is the year that I ….
… am beginning to feel my age.

I relax by….
… watching drama, sport, comedy on the TV; by reading novels, biographies and essays.

When I get home the first thing I do is….
… unload and turn on ABC Radio National.

A misconception about you
That I have a good memory.



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