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LSE sets out big ideas that will shape the 21st Century in short film series

Photograph of Professor Emily JacksonThe London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) launched the first in a series of films today (8 January) exploring ideas that will shape thinking in the 21st century.

The films, which will appear on the Independent newspaper and LSE websites, each focus on an academic and their work.

The Big Ideas series begins with an exploration of death in the modern age by Professor Emily Jackson (pictured), a leading law professor. This will be followed by a film on choice, in which social policy expert Professor Julian Le Grand sets out the influence of the choice agenda on public policy - and particularly on the most disadvantaged in our society.

Dr Jon Adams from LSE said: 'In these films some of LSE's leading thinkers present novel and bold solutions to some of the problems facing British society today. It is enormously exciting to bring the work of our academics to wider audiences. Online distribution means we are a click away from millions of internet users across the world.'

Dr Adams produced the film in conjunction with Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS - LSE's media think tank - and the media company Ember Regis.

Photograph of gravestonesAt a time when modern medicine can prolong life, but also the dying process, Professor Jackson uses the first film to discuss the meaning of death and the moral and legal questions raised by euthanasia. She says that planning and taking personal responsibility for how life ends will become as usual as arranging a pension or a will.

Professor Jackson argues for the need for a carefully thought out euthanasia law which provides adequate protection for patients. She says: 'While the government and judiciary prevaricate, those seeking control over the manner in which they end their lives are increasingly finding the means to do so outside the reach, and the protection, of British law.'

Several high profile cases have recently focused attention on Dignitas, a Swiss facility which offers assisted suicide for a fee. 'We are exporting our assisted dying cases to Switzerland,' says Professor Jackson. She describes this situation as 'regrettable' - not least because the necessity to be fit enough to travel abroad may result in people choosing to end their lives earlier than they might have wished.

The film can be seen at Video and audio


Notes for Editors

1. LSE is a world class university as reflected in its recent success in the Research Assessment Exercise. It is renowned for its concentration of teaching and research across the full range of the social, political and economic sciences. Founded in 1895 by Beatrice and Sidney Webb, it has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence. LSE academics are known for making a difference to the real world, and the Big Ideas films showcase the ways in which the thinking of leading social scientists at LSE inform how we understand the world and seek to change it.

2. The Big Ideas series is produced in conjunction with Robin Powell, a freelance journalist for Sky News and The Politics Show on BBC1, and a director of Ember Regis. The company is a pioneer in the field of internet television and produces high-quality video content for a range of private and public sector clients and for all the major UK broadcasters.

For more information contact: Sue Windebank, Senior Press Officer, LSE, Tel: 020 7849 4624

8 January 2009