Adam Galambos poses for a portrait on Main Hall Green.
Portrait on Main Hall Green: Adam Galambos (Photo by Danny Damiani)

About the series: On Main Hall Green With … is an opportunity to connect with faculty on things in and out of the classroom. We’re featuring a different Lawrence faculty member each time — same questions, different answers.


Adam Galambos has been one of Lawrence University’s most visible faculty members.

In addition to his teaching and economics research, the Dwight and Marjorie Peterson Professor of Innovation and associate professor of economics has been serving as a special assistant to the president, playing a lead role in, among other things, the recent launch of the business and entrepreneurship major and planning for the experiential learning components that will be built into the Fox Commons development.

The business and entrepreneurship (BUEN) major, up and running for this academic year, has 23 students enrolled; another 38 are studying in the related innovation and entrepreneurship concentration. The program—a business major built through the lens of the liberal arts—is expected to grow as it gains traction.

Fox Commons, with a targeted opening in fall 2024, will build momentum for the business and entrepreneurship program. The downtown Appleton development, a public-private partnership, will be a vibrant living-learning hub for Lawrence students. Academic spaces in the building include the Business and Entrepreneurship Center and the Health and Wellness Commons, providing state-of-the art smart classrooms, a teaching kitchen, real-world technologies—including Bloomberg terminals—a pitch/performance stage, and workshop areas.

Combine the benefits of a liberal arts education with those of a business major as we prepare future leaders for work in for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

The leadership Galambos has provided with the new major and Fox Commons builds on work he has been doing since arriving at Lawrence in 2006. Much of his research has been in microeconomic theory and game theory. 

Galambos holds a Ph.D. in economics and a Master’s in mathematics from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in economics and German language from the University of Northern Iowa.

We caught up with him to talk about his interests in and out of the classroom.

In the classroom

Inside info: What’s one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you?

I made a deliberate choice to come to teach at a liberal arts college because I believe in the philosophy of education that we embrace here. Learning at a liberal arts college is a community experience that happens through engaging with each other’s ideas, perspectives, and opinions. So, first and foremost, I am looking for intellectual engagement, thinking, questioning, and dialogue in my classes.

In economics, we build models and analyze data to understand how people make choices and how economies function.

Getting energized: What work have you done or will you be doing at Lawrence that gets you the most excited?

I really enjoy teaching my courses, and I feel privileged to be able to do this work. For the past year, I have also been serving in a different role as special assistant to President Laurie Carter, and I have really enjoyed working with colleagues in the Administration and being able to contribute in a small way to the hard work that happens in the background to make it possible for the university to continue to thrive and to serve its mission for many generations of Lawrentians to come. Many of us on the faculty and staff are involved in ambitious projects to take Lawrence to the next level, and I think we are at an exciting and hopeful juncture.

Going places: Is there an example of somewhere your career has taken you (either a physical space or something more intellectual, emotional, or spiritual) that took you by surprise?

The first time I taught First-Year Studies, Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi) was on the reading list. Reading that and discussing it in class was a revelation, and I revisited it regularly later as well. As for physical spaces, two stand out. Seven years ago, I co-led (with Martyn Smith in religious studies and our then-colleague Dave Hall in chemistry) a group of faculty from liberal arts colleges on a 10-day trip to Silicon Valley. We discovered a lot about innovation, entrepreneurship, spaces, and culture there. Also, teaching at London Centre last year was truly a highlight of my career; I have very fond memories of exploring many fascinating places and spaces there with the wonderful group of students in my courses on markets and on socialism.

Out of the classroom

This or that: If you weren’t teaching for a living, what would you be doing?  

I’ve always been on the more, shall we say, contemplative side, and I’ve always loved to learn, so an academic career was probably always in the cards. I do love baking bread, as well as cooking, and eating, of course… so, who knows, maybe that’s where I would be. 

Right at home: Whether for work, relaxation or reflection, what’s your favorite spot on campus?

The swimming pool is a strong contender, for relaxation, reflection, and balance. But my favorite spot is probably an armchair overlooking the river in the Pusey room, especially when there is an eagle or pelican flying by.

One book, one recording, one film: Name one of each that speaks to your soul? Or you would recommend to a friend? Or both?

Tom Stoppard’s play, Arcadia, is definitely one I feel close to and would recommend. I love how it plays with language and ideas. Spotify says that my top tracks recently are from a 2002 recording of Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Dixit Dominus by the Choir of King’s College Cambridge, and also from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier recorded in 2012 by András Schiff. I have listened to Sviatoslav Richter’s version a lot in the past (and I sympathize with Richter’s notion that one ought to listen to Bach from time to time, if only for “hygienic reasons”). I have always enjoyed listening to Hungarian Klezmer music, as well as Hungarian Gypsy songs, so here are two recommendations that most people at Lawrence haven’t heard: the album Hit the Piano by the group Parno Graszt (White Horse), and Budapest Klezmer Band’s Gyere táncolj velem (Come dance with me).

As to films, I do like some Ingmar Bergman films a lot, but recognize that they are an acquired taste. On the somewhat lighter side, I enjoy crime dramas, including British classics like Inspector Morse or the Poirot series with David Suchet, and more recent series like Only Murders in the Building.

See more faculty profiles here