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Dr Amelia Peterson

Head of Learning and Teaching

Amelia is a social scientist with a background in policy and consulting. She studies education reforms with a focus on social, geographic and labour market inequalities. Prior to LIS, Amelia taught courses on education policy and research methods at LSE. She received her PhD from Harvard and her BA from Oxford. She grew up in London and is grateful to be raising her daughter there.

Amelia - Faculty - LIS

Policy

Political science

Psychology

Sociology

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I think that LIS students are going to have some really interesting things to say to the world and I'm looking forward to helping you do that.

Amelia - Faculty - LIS

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Spending my 20s in America made me even more hopelessly British about writing about myself so in lieu of a biography here are some of my hopes for LIS and how these have been shaped by my backstory –

LIS is both an answer to and a place to work further on the problem that has long interested me: the expansion of the curriculum as a means to increase our potential for discovery and progress. My school education, despite being very well-resourced, was traditional and the curriculum was extremely narrow. Huge parts of contemporary experience remained hidden and it was only through years of graduate study – across the Education, Philosophy, Sociology and Government departments at Harvard – that more of this came into focus. At LIS, I hope that we can give students the opportunity to discover more of the vast map of human knowledge in their undergraduate years.

I also strive to give LIS students the best aspects of the tutorial system I experienced as an undergraduate at Oxford. This means requiring them – both through the work we set and in our coaching sessions – to develop their own thoughts about a subject. Creating my own essay titles was the most valuable thing I learned as an undergraduate and it is hugely exciting that LIS students are already successfully originating their own research topics as first years.

Beyond our direct teaching, I am glad that we are creating for students a thriving interdisciplinary community. I had tasters of this as a graduate student in Harvard’s Program on Inequality and Social Policy, which brings together students and faculty from Government, Economics, Sociology, Social Psychology and Education to study income and wealth inequality. Our weekly seminars modelled what it feels like to talk with people with different kinds of expertise and find common language. Likewise as a visitor scholar at Nuffield College, Oxford – a graduate college dedicated to the social sciences – I had the experience of being able to question different disciplinary specialists who focused on my topic of educational inequality. Through the networks of faculty and partners at LIS, we aim to give our students this experience and already have seen them take advantage of the contacts we can offer to further their ideas and initiatives.

Finally, my biggest hope for LIS is that we continue efforts to break down boundaries between academia and those working on problems in government, business and civil society. Prior to my PhD I worked at Innovation Unit, a non-profit consultancy based in London, and as a freelancer on projects for organisations such as OECD, the RSA, and Nesta. Whilst conducting research I also worked part-time in a state secondary school. I thought I needed to conduct original research to answer the questions we were struggling with, but from the other side of my PhD I can see that the bigger challenge is with integrating what is known into new ways of operating. We need LIS graduates and faculty to be part of the growing cadres of people who can understand the methods and language of disciplinary thinking, but are also positioned to put it to use.

I joined LIS because I’ve studied education reforms for long enough to know that the biggest change is possible through the creation of new institutions. I’ve been fortunate to be part of some fantastic universities but there are still so many ways in which higher education is constricted by disciplinary silos. LIS has created a ground-breaking curriculum that respects the importance of disciplines but explicitly teaches students how to connect, integrate and apply them to complex problems. That’s the frontier of knowledge we need to crack today and I could not be more excited to be working on it.

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