The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is one of the foremost social science universities in the world, specialising in a wide range of social science disciplines, including economics, politics, sociology, law and anthropology.
It was founded in the late 1800s by Fabian Society members Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas and George Bernard Shaw for the purpose of bettering society, ‘by studying poverty issues and analysing inequalities.’
The philosopher Bertrand Russell taught there in 1895-96 and 1937-38, helping to define the LSE’s ethos. In 1900, it joined the federal University of London and has remained a member ever since, rapidly expanding to its current position near Aldwych in central London, where King George V laid the first stone of its 'Old Building' in 1920.
The LSE boasts associations with 16 Nobel Prize winners and counts 37 past or present world leaders among its alumni. Bertrand Russell received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, recognising his writing on ‘humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought’, while Mick Jagger attended as an undergraduate in 1961, dropping out after a year to form the Rolling Stones.
British Prime Minister Clement Attlee was an assistant lecturer there in 1912 and one of the first teachers in the new Department of Social Science and Administration. Lord Beveridge separately was appointed director of the LSE in 1937, later authoring the famous Beveridge Report, a cornerstone of the UK’s welfare state.
The LSE students’ union has twice courted controversy in the past half century, first in a series of riots in 1967 to protest the appointment of director Sir Walter Adams, who had worked as a principal in Zimbabwe under white rule. And again in 1989, when students elected Winston Silcott as their honorary president, after Silcott’s murder conviction (later overturned) during London’s infamous Broadwater Farm riot.
Today, the LSE is world-renowned. Home to 9,600 full time students from some 140 countries, it maintains international partnerships with Columbia University in New York, Sciences Po in Paris, Peking University in Beijing, the National University of Singapore and the University of Cape Town.