Understanding the causes of things
A message from the Director of LSE100, Dr Jonathan Leape:
Thinking like a social scientist
LSE100 is an innovative course that introduces first year undergraduates to the fundamental elements of thinking like a social scientist, by exploring some of the great intellectual debates of our time from the perspectives of different disciplines. Focusing on questions such as 'How should we manage climate change?', 'Do nations matter in a global world?' and 'Why are great events so difficult to predict?', LSE100 students explore the different approaches to evidence, explanation and theory that are used in the different social sciences.
In the current syllabus, students on LSE100 examine rival poverty measures and are asked, 'What are the policy implications of the UK coalition government’s recent proposal to change the official measure of poverty?' Students consider statistical evidence on potential economic losses from global warming to assess the role of risk in managing climate change, and go on to explore the politics of collective action. Students draw on historical documents from the Kremlin and the CIA to analyse the failure to predict the end of the Cold War.
In this way, LSE100 aims to produce students whose intellectual grounding in their discipline is complemented by an understanding of different ways of thinking.
Broadening the intellectual experience
LSE has a long tradition of engaging in public debates and LSE100 brings students squarely into this tradition. No important issue can be fully understood through a single lens and LSE100 aims to produce students who can engage with these issues, bringing a range of perspectives from across the social sciences. In this way, the course broadens the intellectual experience of undergraduates at the School, challenging them to think about important questions in new ways.
Developing critical skills
LSE100 also helps students develop the critical skills they need for success at LSE and afterwards. Students strengthen their research and communication skills – assessing and managing information, evaluating different types of evidence and explanation, and constructing persuasive arguments orally and in writing. The course builds on the diversity of LSE, enabling students to learn not only from a range of lecturers, topics and disciplines, but also from each other. The small, interactive classes are designed to allow students to learn from collaborating and debating with classmates from other disciplines and cultural backgrounds.
Leading lecturers, challenging classes
Among the lecturers in the first term were Professors Craig Calhoun, Nicholas Stern and Michael Cox. While the topics of the three-week modules are broad-ranging, the classes all follow a similar format aimed at developing an understanding of the core methodological concepts of evidence, explanation and theory and at building and strengthening critical research and communication skills. The lectures and classes are carefully designed to be challenging but, at the same time, accessible to students from all backgrounds and disciplines.
LSE100: The Story of a Course
LSE100 is now featured as one the "Stories from LSE" series, in a film made possible by HEIF4 funding. In this film the Director of LSE100, Dr Jonathan Leape, sets out the thinking behind the course, leading academics at LSE, all of whom teach on the course, comment on its intellectual value and students discuss the value of the course, both to their own understanding of the social sciences and also to employers looking for students who can work well in groups, write cogent arguments and see an issue from a range of perspectives.
Further information is available in the LSE100 brochure and LSE staff and students can explore the LSE100 Moodle site [LSE username required].