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What We Owe Each Other: a new social contract

Hosted by LSE Festival: Shaping the Post-COVID World

Online public event


Baroness Shafik

Baroness Shafik

Juan Manuel Santos

Juan Manuel Santos


Professor Amartya Sen

Professor Amartya Sen



Professor Tim Besley

Professor Tim Besley

What should a social contract for the 21st century look like?  

Launching her new book, What We Owe Each Other, LSE Director Minouche Shafik draws on evidence from across the globe to identify key principles for a social contract for every society. She will be in conversation with Juan Manuel Santos and Amartya Sen. 

The social contract governs all aspects of society, from politics and law to our families and communities. Accelerating changes in technology, demography, climate and global health, as we have seen over the last year, will reshape our world in ways we have yet to fully grasp. How do we pool risks, share resources and balance individual with collective responsibility? What part do we each have to play? 

You can order the book, What We Owe Each Other: a new social contract, (UK delivery only) from our official LSE Events independent book shop, Pages of Hackney

Meet our speakers and chair

Minouche Shafik is Director of LSE. Prior to this she was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. An economist by training, Baroness Shafik has spent most of her career straddling the worlds of public policy and academia. After completing her BSc in economics and politics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, she took an MSc in economics at LSE before completing a DPhil in economics at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. In 2020 the UK Government announced that she would be made a Life Peer in the House of Lords. 

Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (@JuanManSantos) is the former President of the Republic of Colombia, serving two terms, from 2010 to 2018. He was Colombia’s first Foreign Trade Minister, has been Minister of Finance and before being elected President, was Minister for National Defence. Prior to entering politics, President Santos was deputy director of El Tiempo newspaper, and wrote a weekly opinion column. He was awarded the King of Spain International Journalism Award and named president of the Freedom of Expression Commission for the Inter American Press Association (IAPA). In 2016 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is a member of The Elders and a Honorary Graduate of LSE. President Santos studied for a Master of Science in the Department of Economics at LSE in 1975. 

Amartya Sen is Thomas W Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and an LSE Honorary Fellow. His research has ranged over social choice theory, economic theory, ethics and political philosophy, welfare economics, theory of measurement, decision theory, development economics, public health, and gender studies.  Amartya Sen’s books have been translated into more than thirty languages and his awards include the Nobel Prize in Economics. 

Tim Besley is School Professor of Economics of Political Science and W Arthur Lewis Professor of Development Economics in the Department of Economics at LSE.  He is also a member of the National Infrastructure Commission.  He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society and British Academy.  He is also a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Economic Association and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

More about this event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: Shaping the Post-COVID World running from Monday 1 to Saturday 6 March 2021, with a series of events exploring the direction the world could and should be taking after the crisis and how social science research can shape it.

Twitter hashtags for this event: #LSEFestival

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from What We Owe Each Other: a new social contract.

A shortcast (20 minute digested version) of this event is available to download at SHORTCAST | What We Owe Each Other: a new social contract

A video of this event is available to watch at What We Owe Each Other: a new social contract

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

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