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LSE to teach all undergraduates about the war on drugs


From December 2015, all second-year undergraduate students at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) will begin to study the war on drugs, through the School’s innovative LSE100 course. LSE is the first university in the world to require all of its undergraduates to study this topic.

LSE100 is the School’s flagship interdisciplinary course for undergraduate students. It is designed to introduce students 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.

Co-founder of LSE100 and LSE IDEAS Director, Professor Michael Cox said: “In 2016, the UN General Assembly will hold its first Special Session on Drugs in almost two decades and meet to address the failures of global drug policies to date. We are always engaging and challenging the status quo on global issues and this is exactly the kind of high impact policy analysis and training that LSE has earned a global reputation for.”

Dr Jessica Templeton, Deputy Director of LSE100, added: “LSE100 aims to develop students’ abilities to think critically about complex issues. With LSE having led the economic analysis of the cost of the war on drugs and the benefits of alternative policies, now is a great time for LSE100 to incorporate drugs policy into its curriculum. There is no doubt that drugs policy will be a defining policy issue for years to come, and this course will teach future generations of LSE students about the need for rigorous interdisciplinary analysis to more fully understand and respond to the complex global issue of drugs and drug policies.”

As part of a module entitled ‘Is punishment the answer to crime?’ students will be asked to research policy issues around the war on drugs and present a case study analysing one of the following dimensions of the war on drugs: addiction and health; gender (women/femininities or men/masculinities); imprisonment; poverty and inequality; or race/ethnicity and inequality. 

Dr John Collins, an expert on drugs policy at LSE and coordinator of the LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project (IDPP), which has led international drug policy discussions at LSE since 2012, will lecture on the origins of the war on drugs. He said: “With this course, LSE is breaking new ground in teaching the next generation of policymakers about this issue. We are a global university which has influenced policies the world over by our teaching. Drug policy will be an issue where LSE continues to drive policy innovation and change based on rigorous social science research.”

LSE already teaches a highly successful MSc half-module course on drug policy analysis with Dr Michael Shiner, LSE Social Policy. In partnership with the IDPP, the LSE Social Policy Department will also be looking to establish the first Masters module in “International Drug Policy Analysis”.



IDEAS: Dr. John Collins, j.collins@lse.ac.uk, +44 (0)7848836124

LSE 100: Dr. Jessica Templeton, j.b.templeton@lse.ac.uk, +44 (0)20 7107 5152

Notes for editors

LSE International Drug Policy Project (IDPP)
The LSE IDEAS International Drug Policy Project is a large scale multidisciplinary and cross-regional research undertaking. It has been created to produce a deep strategic re-evaluation of the international drug control system through rigorous academic research and policy analysis. http://www.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/Projects/IDPP/International-Drug-Policy-Project.aspx

LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy
In 2014, the IDPP published it “Ending the Drug Wars: Report of the LSE Expert Group on the Economics of Drug Policy.” The report, chaired by the LSE’s Professor Danny Quah, was produced by world leading drug policy academics and endorsed by five Nobel Prize winning economists. It concluded that: “it is time to end the ‘war on drugs’ and massively redirect resources towards effective evidence-based policies underpinned by rigorous economic analysis.” Further, it highlighted that “the pursuit of a militarised and enforcement-led global ‘war on drugs’ strategy has produced enormous negative outcomes and collateral damage.”  

All undergraduates take LSE100 in the second term of their first year and the first term of their second year. Other topics on the course have included: ‘How should we manage climate change?’, led by Professor Nicholas Stern; ‘How should we address poverty and inequality?’, led by Professor Mary Morgan; and ‘Is the world order changing?’ led by Professors Danny Quah and Michael Cox.

More information about LSE 100 can be found here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/intranet/students/LSE100/Home.aspx

1 December 2015