US Centre staff members at an event

Undergraduate Research Assistantships

Encouraging interdisciplinary research collaborations between academics and undergraduate students

In Michaelmas 2017, the Centre launched the US Centre Undergraduate Research Assistantship programme as a means of encouraging US-related interdisciplinary research collaborations between academics and undergraduate students at LSE. After resounding success and generous donations from alumni, the Centre is running the programme once again in 2019 for a third cohort of students.

Collaborating over the course of an academic year, undergraduate students are paired with academics who require assistance in collecting or processing new data, gathering archival resources, writing-up a blog article, or conducting library searches. The program is a great opportunity to learn and study alongside faculty. 

We have closed our applications for the 2019-20 programme.This year we received over 200 applications from undergraduate students from 15 LSE Departments. Find out more about the applications with our infographic [PDF].

 If you are interested in applying next year, please register for our newsletter here and we will let you know once the applications for 2020-21 academic year open. 

Read the donor report of the successes of the 2018-19 programme. For more information on the previous years' research projects click here

 2019-20 Research Projects

1. US Aid and international drug policy - evaluating the US role in the global drugs and development debate.

Faculty: John Collins, International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU)
Research Assistant: Karen Torres, Department of Social Policy 

The US is generally viewed as the lead protagonist in the global “war on drugs”. This has generally manifest through the traditional lens of militarisation, repression and policing which are widely viewed as often ineffective and counterproductive. Another, less examined, strand of US drug diplomacy is the stick and carrot wielded through the provision of development aid. This research project will aim to gain a better understanding the US’ complex diplomatic and geopolitical interests and roles in global drug policies via the drugs and development debates. Further it is intended to understand how US policies can and could intersect more productively with global efforts to align drug policies more closely with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read the report.

2. The New Politics of Inequality: How It Works—and Fails—in America

Faculty: Lloyd Gruber, Department of International Development
Research Assistant: Colin Vanelli, Department of International History 

This book project will examine the surprisingly understudied relationship between globalization, economic inequality, and domestic politics.  While we know a great deal about globalization’s impact on economic inequality, the second link in globalization’s causal chain—the link from inequality to politics—has been subjected to far less scrutiny. If recent trends of globalization continue, a great many congressional districts will soon by populated almost exclusively by wealthy families, just as other districts will soon find themselves the exclusive preserves of poorer households. If this pattern continues—if America’s inequality-winners keep clustering into some political districts, the inequality-losers into others—we will soon be seeing stable inequality-generated “tyrannies” of precisely the sort that worried James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill in the past and inspire (and motivate) populists and their supporters today.

Read the report.

3. The changing role of high culture in American social stratification over the 20th century

Faculty: Fabien Accominotti, Department of Sociology
Research Assistant: Nicholas Robben, LSE General Course

The project will use a unique database of subscribers to the New York Philharmonic – one of the oldest and most prestigious orchestras in the United States – to explore the changing role of high culture in American social stratification over the twentieth century. The project will explore the data covering 1910 to 1990, with emphasis on the post-war period (1950s-1990s). The post-war era was one of important shifts in patterns of social stratification in the US, with the three decades between 1950 and 1980 often described as the time of the rise of the “great American middle class,” and the 1980s and 1990s in contrast as a time of renewed inequality and elite closure. The goal of the project will be to explore how these dynamics were reflected in the audience of one of the most prominent, elite-sponsored, cultural institutions in the United States. 

Read the report.

4. Race and Gender in US Politics in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

Faculty: Imaobong Umoren, Department of International History
Research Assistant: Eileen Gbagbo, Department of International Relations

Given our current moment, with surging white supremacy and sexism directed toward, in particular, Black politicians and the overwhelming significance of the African American vote in the upcoming 2020 US Presidential elections, it is worth reflecting on the intersecting influence that race and gender has had both historically and in contemporary times. This research project is based on the seminar series 'Race and Gender in US Politics in Historical and Contemporary Perspective'. The seminar series will bring together historians, political scientists and sociologists to share current research on the theme of ‘race, gender and politics’. While race and gender will be the central themes, the seminars will also explore other issues surrounding religion, immigration, incarceration, and poverty.

If you would like to know more about Eileen's journey on the programme, watch her Undergraduate Research Assistantship Video Diaries here and here.

Read the report.

5. The failure to restore the international financial system after World War I

Faculty: James Morrison, Department International Relations
Research Assistants: Anna Cooper (Department of International History) and Katherine Bennett (LSE General Course)

The project traces the attempts to restore a cooperative international financial system following World War I, the failure of those attempts, and the disasters that followed. Much of this is rooted in the documents surrounding the collaboration of the central banks of the US and the UK. Documents covered include a large collection from US Treasury Department official Harry Dexter White related to ongoing US-UK collaboration in the 1930s and 1940s as well as original private memos from Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes.

Read Anna Cooper's report.

Read Katherine Bennett's report.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop the ability to manage and deliver complex, multi-part research to tight deadlines
  2. Gain an understanding of key policy issues across the UK, US and Europe/the EU
  3. Improved research skills, including judgement about what is relevant and interesting to a non-academic audience
  4. Develop the ability to work and network with colleagues at senior levels as well as working independently
  5. Exposure to new and innovative data sets and research methods
  6. Improved organisational skills and time management
  7. Improved knowledge and experience of scholarly communication including the potential to produce blogs and other research-related outputs


The programme has been generously funded by LSE Alumni. Read more about the programme at Supporting LSE.

To stay informed on our future student outreach activities, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to our termly newsletter. 


Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash



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LSE US Centre, Centre Building, 10th Floor, , 2 Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AD