The history of the Distinguished Visiting Austrian Chair Professor at Stanford begins with the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. At this time, Austria wanted to make a gift to the United States – as did many other states – in order to demonstrate its appreciation for America’s support following the Second World War.
What price do we pay for civilization? For Walter Scheidel, a professor of history and classics at Stanford, civilization has come at the cost of glaring economic inequality since the Stone Age. The sole exception, in his account, is widespread violence – wars, pandemics, civil unrest; only violent shocks like these have substantially reduced inequality over the millennia.