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LSE100: the story of a course


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Contributor(s): Dr Jonathan Leape, Professor Luc Bovens, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Professor Michael Cox, Dr Piers Ludlow

Released on 29 February 2012.

LSE100 is an innovative new course set up as part of a major series of initiatives to improve teaching at LSE. It introduces first year undergraduates to the fundamentals of thinking like a social scientist, by exploring some of the great intellectual debates of our time from different perspectives.

In this film, Director of LSE100, Dr Jonathan Leape, sets out the thinking behind the course. "No issue can be understood through a single lens," he says. "We need to be able to adopt different perspectives to understand fully what is involved in a particular issue". Focussing on questions such as "How should we manage climate change?" and "Why are great events so difficult to predict?" LSE100 offers students the chance to explore different approaches to evidence, explanation and theory used in the different social sciences taught at LSE -- from anthropology to economics, from statistics to international relations.

Leading academics at LSE, all of whom teach on the course, comment on its intellectual value. Professor Luc Bovens, head of the department of philosophy, says, "These various social sciences involve a common core. So why not try and teach the common core?". Professor Bovens also stresses the creativity that comes from interdisciplinary working: "I think a lot of good thinking comes about in the social sciences when things become interdisciplinary -- when people start using economic techniques in order to do international relations, for example."

Following a successful pilot in 2010, the course is now compulsory for all first year students. In the film, made possible by HEIF4 funding, 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.

Professor Nicholas Stern comments, "I think it is an absolutely fascinating course and I think it is the right way to start your life in the social sciences and your life at LSE."

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