“Experts must fight back”: LSE’s incoming Director challenges rise in anti-intellectual sentiment

The world needs neutral spaces for real debate between different world views more than ever

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.

Behind the article

The article will be available on the Times Higher Education website from 31 August 2017 and will feature in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings Supplement, from 5 September 2017.
  • Minouche will be LSE’s first permanent female Director, starting Friday 1 September 2017.
  • She was Deputy Governor, Markets and Banking at the Bank of England between 1 August 2014 and 28 February 2017. She was a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Policy Committee, the Board of the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank’s Court of Directors.
  • Minouche was Deputy Managing Director of the IMF from 2011 to 2014 where she oversaw work on countries in Europe and the Middle East. She was responsible for the IMF’s $1 billion administrative budget, human resources for its 3,000 staff and oversees the IMF’s training and technical assistance for policy makers around the world.
  • She was Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development (DFID) from March 2008 to March 2011. As chief executive of the department responsible for all UK development efforts she oversaw a bilateral aid programme in over 100 countries, multilateral policies and financing for the United Nations, European Union and international financial institutions, and overall development policy and research. Prior to coming to DFID in 2004, she was the youngest ever Vice President at the World Bank.
  • Minouche held academic appointments at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Economics Department at Georgetown University. She has a BA in Economics and Politics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an MSc in Economics from LSE  and a DPhil in Economics from St. Antony's College, Oxford University.  She has published a number of books and articles on a wide variety of economic topics.