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The Ralph Miliband Programme

Convenor: Dr Robin Archer, Director of the Postgraduate Programme in Political Sociology

The Ralph Miliband Programme is one of the LSE's most prestigious public lecture series, receiving attention not only at the LSE but across London, the UK, and globally. It was set up in 1996 thanks to a generous anonymous benefaction from a former PhD student inspired by 'Ralph Miliband's contribution to social thought'. He specified that the funds be used in memory of his friend and mentor 'to advance his spirit of free social inquiry' and the diversity of thought that has always been the hallmark of LSE. 

Progress and its Discontents

This year our aim is to consider whether there has been a loss of confidence in the possibility of progress and whether it can be reversed. Scepticism has often been a friend of progress, but when does it become destructive or debilitating? Progressive proposals are now often dismissed by a public that assumes that no one will do what they say and that governments can do little or nothing to improve things.  Elected representatives are routinely assumed to be venal. And some intellectuals of a radical temper reject the very idea of progress as at best an illusion.

Upcoming Events:


Shadow sovereigns: how global corporations are seizing power

Dr Susan George

Date: Thursday 12 November   2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue:   Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speaker:   Dr Susan George
Chair:   Dr Robin Archer

Can Progressives slow the success of neo-liberalism? In recent years links between big business and government have become stronger and more far-reaching than ever, impeding the possibility for progress. Ahead of the Spanish elections and climate change negotiations, Susan George will draw on her new book about the power of big business and her decades of activism and writing to analyse the possibilities for progress.

Susan George is a political activist, widely-translated author and President of the Transnational Institute. Her latest book is Shadow Sovereigns: how global corporations are seizing power.

Red Flat over Houghton Street? The Radical Tradition at the LSE - Myth, Reality and Fact

Professor Michael Cox

Date: Thursday 19 November   2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue:   Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speaker: Professor Michael Cox
Chair:   Dr Robin Archer

Founded by Fabian socialists in the 1890s and attracting such radical figures as Harold Laski, R.H. Tawney and Ralph Miliband, it is hardly surprising that the LSE has acquired a ‘red’  reputation over the years: a reputation that only seemed to be confirmed during the second half of the 1960s when the School was forced to close down because of student protest. But just how radical has the LSE ever been? Has it ever been a hot bed of revolution as critics have claimed? And how true is it of the LSE today?

Michael Cox is Professor of International Relations at the LSE and Co-Director of LSE IDEAS.

What Should we Study when Study Economics?

Professor Wendy Carlin

Date: Thursday 3 December   2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue:   Old Theatre, Old Building
Speaker: Professor Wendy Carlin
Chair:   Dr Robin Archer

The financial crisis triggered a fundamental rethinking of how economics students are taught and what they learn. An international collaborative project of economists (the CORE project), led by Wendy Carlin, has responded with a new curriculum that provides tools for engaging with the issues of economic inequality, environmental sustainability, innovation and wealth creation, and financial instability. Some policy shortcomings can be traced to a view – standard in undergraduate economics teaching – that the pursuit of self-interest in competitive markets is a sufficient guide to how society should allocate its resources. But this confidence in unregulated markets finds little support in recent economic research. In this new, empirically based view, instability, growing economic disparity and environmental destruction are not exceptions to the rule but rather the expected outcomes of an unregulated market economy.  Fundamental changes have occurred, too, in economic knowledge of individual behaviour resulting in a growing recognition of the economic importance of ethical and other-regarding motives alongside self-interest. The tools of economics can be taught using new research insights and empirical results to address questions of importance to students, policy-makers and a broader public.

Wendy Carlin is Professor of Economics at University College London, and Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research.