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Obituary - George Blazyca

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Guy Judge, April 2005

Earlier this year George Blazyca died of cancer at the age of 52. During his career George established a reputation for himself as an expert on the Polish Economy and in recent years he was Director of Paisley University's Centre of Contemporary European Studies. His stature was such that a little while after his death the Guardian included an obituary for him ["Socialist academic with a profound grasp of the Polish economy", David Hearst, Thursday March 31, 2005, The Guardian.]

One thing that the Guardian obituary missed was George's important role in the early days of CHEER and the generation of interest and support for the use of computing in economics teaching. Back in 1987, when the CALECO Group had just been established, George (who was at the time a lecturer at what was then Thames Polytechnic) made contact with us and we discussed at length what might be the best ways to make use of computers in economics teaching and how best to spread good practice. Together with his colleague Bob Morgan, George organised a one-day conference at Woolwich called "Computing in Economics Teaching at First Degree level". Contributions included Alex Scott of Heriot Watt on the very successful "Running the UK Economy" game, Frank Srba of the LSE on the PcGive and TSP regression programs, John Hey on the use of computers for studying decision making under uncertainty, and Jean Soper on the use of spreadsheets in statistics teaching. Andy Thorpe gave a demonstration of his PITS program for teaching the difference between purely accounting and economic concepts of cost in an applied setting. There was even a presentation by someone called Guy Judge on the use of spreadsheets in teaching economics!

Although the CALECO Group and then later CTI Economics (and all its successors) took over the role of conference organisation for the subject of computers in economics teaching, the Thames Polytechnic conference was to my knowledge the first such event in the UK.

In 1988 George, in one of a number of contributions to the Times Higher, wrote a supportive piece about CHEER giving us much needed publicity. Despite the growth of his work in other areas George maintained his interest in the use of technology in teaching and remained a friend to CHEER and the CALECO Group. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues.