A pioneering academic course that asks every undergraduate to grapple with the some of the world's most important problems has been launched at The London School of Economics and Political Science.
The course, LSE 100, will help students from all disciplines to sharpen their skills in the fundamentals of social science – how to find and weigh evidence, how to interpret and explain competing theories and how to present arguments persuasively. It should therefore deepen their understanding of their own subject, while giving them the ability to analyse society's most urgent questions.
The first group of 400 students began the course on 11 January 2010 and will be taught by some of LSE's leading experts, including the Director, Howard Davies and Professor Lord Nicholas Stern. Topics will range from "Is punishment a waste of time, suffering and money?" to "Does culture matter?"
The two-term course will be compulsory for all students from October 2010, running alongside their normal degree course. Each student on LSE100 will receive not a numerical mark but a Distinction, Pass or Fail. While the results will not affect the outcome of their degree, they will be part of their transcript and a good performance will significantly enhance their CV and demonstrate their skills to employers.
Howard Davies said: 'Success on LSE100 will be a real added trump card for LSE graduates in future. Through this course, we can ensure that they can engage in issues of public policy, of contemporary history, of economy and society, and can do that with people of different backgrounds and nationalities.'
Dr Jonathan Leape, who is director of the course, said: 'LSE100 will introduce new undergraduates to the fundamentals of thinking like a social scientist. It will stretch them in new ways by both broadening and deepening the way they think and remind them that real investigation and understanding begin where Google and Wikipedia finish. LSE graduates have always been adept at getting a grip on society's biggest issues and this course will enhance that ability through expert and innovative teaching and its interdisciplinary approach.'
LSE is investing more than £1.25 million in the first three years of LSE100 – part of the School's £3.9 million added annual investment in teaching and learning. Lectures will be mixed with small-group classes and backed with technological innovation to help learning. The course is pioneering the use of Personal Response System 'clickers' which will allow students to react and respond to a lecture as it unfolds while giving the lecturer an instant view of their progress.
LSE100 consists of six modules studied over two terms – which blend lectures, small seminars and written coursework. The first three modules are: How should we manage climate change? Does culture matter? and Why are great events so difficult to predict?
The first students to take the course, which has the full title LSE100 The LSE Course: understanding the causes of things, all volunteered for the pilot phase. Half the places were booked by 8am on the first day of registration; all the places were booked within four days.
In future, all undergraduates will follow the course (which is in addition to their normal timetable) during the second term of their first year and the first term of their second year.
The course has the full backing of the LSE Students' Union and students have been consulted and closely involved during its design, along with several employers.
Full details on LSE 100
For more information contact LSE press office on 020 7955 7060
18 January 2010
The LSE is getting back to its social science roots The Independent, 21 January 2010