In 1945, a docentship in economic history was attached to the Department of History at Lund University. Four years later the discipline of Economic history became independent through the creation of a “preceptorship” (something between a docentship and a professorship), held by Oscar Bjurling. In 1959, the Department moved to a villa at Finngatan and the “preceptorship” was converted into a professorship. Now the long and (so far) uninterrupted growth of the discipline began. In 1973, Bjurling was succeeded by Lennart Jörberg and three years later Gunnar Fridlizius got a personal professorship. During 30 years, in the cosy house at Finngatan, three big research groups germinated, which still today are present at the Department. These are the economics of 1) structure, 2) population and 3) development. Eventually, the villa became too crowded and in 1988 the Department moved to “Holger Crafoords Ekonomicentrum” which is now the School of Economics and Management.
At the time of the move, a generational change was initiated and a second phase of expansion for research and education began. At the retirement of Gunnar Fridlizius in 1988, a professorship of modern and social economic history was established and held by Rolf Ohlsson until his death in 2004. In 1992, Lennart Jörberg was succeeded by Lennart Schön (deceased in 2016) and in 1996 another professorship was created, directed towards the third world and held by Christer Gunnarsson (now emeritus). After that, several professors have been appointed, either by promotion or transfers within the university: Carl-Axel Olsson (deceased), Tommy Bengtsson (emeritus), Christer Lundh (moved to Gothenburg), Göran Ahlström (emeritus), Benny Carlson (emeritus), Anders Nilsson (emeritus), Jonas Ljungberg (emeritus), Astrid Kander, Martin Dribe, Lars Svensson (emeritus), Mats Olsson, Maria Stanfors, Kirk Scott, Cristina Chaminade, Kerstin Enflo, Ellen Hillbom, Olof Ejermo and Sylvia Schwaag Serger. In 2005, the Department had ten active professors, all of whom were men. In 2021, the number of professors is the same, but now six are women and four are men.
Both teaching and research entered a third expansion phase on the eve of the 2010s, which meant, inter alia, more extensive collaboration with other disciplines. Successful research resulted in two interdisciplinary so-called Linnaeus grants, one to the Centre for Economic Demography and one to CIRCLE for innovation and entrepreneurship research. Around the same time, the Department launched three international Master programmes and thus established itself strongly in teaching at the advanced level.
The Department’s fourth expansion phase began in the mid-2010s and has meant a broadening both in terms of personnel and subject matter. The number of employees doubled to about 100 due to an influx of large and, above all, numerous research grants. If, previously, a handful of professors received grants and ran projects, there was now an explosion in breadth and strength. It is not unusual for about thirty unique researchers to be granted external research funding of more than one million kronor each during a three-year period. At the same time, large and important projects, often linked to the creation or development of historical individual databases, have continued to receive funding and have been able to flourish. The Department now defines itself in six overall research fields, while the boundaries between them are constantly being crossed in exciting new collaborations.
The PhD programme in Economic history in Lund is important, about 30 active doctoral students are now enrolled and over the years, about 150 doctoral dissertations have been successfully defended. In 2020, an evaluation of the doctoral programme was carried out, which showed high quality of education, great success rate, and good career paths after exam, both within and outside the academy.
In parallel, in the fourth expansion phase, new initiatives were taken to develop the Department’s teaching. At the basic level, there had so far only been independent courses, but in 2019 the Department launched its own international Bachelor programme called Economy and Society. The programme went straight into the top ten list of most sought-after international programmes among all disciplines in Sweden.