The incoming LSE Director, Dame Minouche Shafik, has issued a rallying call to the higher education sector in her first public statement in the role.
Writing for Times Higher Education ahead of the release of the THE World University Rankings and the THE World Academic Summit in London next week, the incoming LSE Director calls on her colleagues in higher education to promote the public good universities provide and challenge the view that experts are a distant and irrelevant elite.
In her article, titled ‘Experts must fight back’, Minouche sets out four key priorities for universities in the near future:
• Spread the practices of academic quality to other areas of public life “We need to reinforce, raise awareness of and spread the well-established principles that govern what constitutes a valid intellectual contribution. Practices such as peer review, competitive process for funding research, requirements to publish data, and transparency about conflicts of interest are fundamental to academic life.”
• Improve communication about the public good of universities and make research more accessible “We should strive to communicate clearly about our work, aiming to reach not only those who want to hear from us but, crucially, those to whom we are, more often than not, an irrelevance. That doesn’t mean being simplistic or misrepresenting research in order to go viral on social media channels. It can mean working with thoughtful and effective storytellers to reach a wider public.”
• Instil rigour and commitment to debate in the next generation of students “Instilling in them an appreciation for rigour and a commitment to engage with public debate as experts and as citizens is vital. At present we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish.”
• Challenge anti-intellectual sentiment and engage with different views, even if uncomfortable “The world needs neutral spaces for real debate between different world views more than ever – universities are well positioned to provide that while staying true to their values of respectful discourse and rigour.”
Minouche joins LSE on 1 September having served as Deputy Governor at the Bank of England from 2014-2017. Previous positions include Deputy Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund and Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development (DFID). She is an alumna of LSE, graduating with an MSc in Economics, with longstanding connections to the School.