Shaping the future

How LSE’s new Data Science Institute will put the social in data science

"We want to bring data science methods to bear on social and economic analysis in a sound, social and scientific way"

Professor Ken Benoit

Many industries are being transformed by advances in data science, from healthcare to finance. However, these advances have outpaced societal thinking and traditional forms of education and scholarship. There is an urgent need to bring together expertise in social and data sciences to address these challenges and seize opportunities for global prosperity.

At this pivotal moment in LSE’s history, the new Data Science Institute (DSI) will bring the School’s considerable expertise and knowledge to bear on the global data science debate. It will transform LSE, embedding data science across both teaching and research, to confront the big societal challenges that hard data science and technology research alone cannot resolve.

The DSI will provide a focal point for multi-disciplinary collaboration in the social sciences, bringing together LSE’s specialist expertise in data science, in collaboration with the School’s rich diversity of social science departments and strategic partners who are examining the consequences of data processes.

Ken Benoit, Professor of Computational Social Science, is the inaugural Director of the DSI. “We want to bring data science methods to bear on social and economic analysis in a sound, social and scientific way,” he said. “This is while providing innovative data science approaches and methodologies by confronting the more challenging and heterogeneous problems of analysing social, economic, and political data.”

A bold new programme of research and policy outreach The DSI’s research and policy outreach will initially focus on the following themes:

  • Healthcare and social policy
  • Ethics and artificial intelligence policy
  • Data for climate change and environment
  • Digital societies, digital misinformation and social media
  • Finance, economics, firms and markets
  • Foundations of data science

However, its aim is not simply to generate the transformative ideas that can create new ways to understand and utilise data science, but to create future generations who can harness the power of data in an increasingly digital world.

Embedding data science across LSE under Professor Benoit’s leadership, the DSI will embed data science across LSE to enable more insightful research, expand LSE’s educational provision and better equip students for future careers. It will provide two half-unit courses for all LSE students from 2022, with different content for those with a quantitative background and those with a qualitative background.

At the postgraduate level, it will offer a significantly increased number of data science and applied data science courses across the breadth of the School to meet burgeoning demand from talented students.

Shaping the future

The DSI is integral to realising the ambitions at the heart of LSE 2030 – ensuring that LSE embraces new technology and ways of learning to keep the social sciences at the forefront of global thinking, solutions and impact, and continuing our founding mission to know the causes of things for the betterment of society.

LSE would welcome expressions of support from alumni, friends and partners for the Data Science Institute. Find out how to support the DSI here.

For further details on how you can support the DSI, please contact Dr Brendan Smith, Director of East Asia, Global Academic Engagement, Philanthropic and Global Engagement (PAGE) Division, at

This article was originally posted as part of the LSE Shaping the World campaign.