London Interdisciplinary School: Applications set to open for new revolutionary university tackling today’s real world problems

Rebecca Speare-Cole
One of LIS's "Discovery Days" for perspective students.": London Interdisciplinary School

A new revolutionary London university, which aims to tackle real world problems, will open applications next week for its first ever student intake in September 2020.

The London Interdisciplinary School is launching a university model that connects academic theory to practical problem solving for some of the world's most pressing issues.

LIS has already partnered with Virgin, the Metropolitan Police, Jacobs and McKinsey as well as being backed by The Funding Circle and smoothie giant, Innocent. These will also offer students paid placements on London living wage.

Its single degree, Interdisciplinary Problems and Methods, will make connections to many subjects on the way to solving a global crisis.

One of LIS's

Plastic pollution, ageing in society, childhood obesity, climate change, supply chains, and knife crime are just some of the topics explored.

"Poetry is neuroscience. There is creative combinations everywhere," says the university's Academic Lead Carl Gombrich - a former UCL professor for Interdisciplinary Education, who successfully launched its cutting-edge Arts and Science degree.

Co-founder and CEO Ed Fidoe, who left McKinsey in 2012 to set up School 21 in Stratford, also said: "Take fast fashion - you need to understand materials, economics, aesthetic and design.

One of LIS's

"But you also need to know about social media and technology, as well as ethical behaviour like not wearing an item once then throwing it away.

"Only through understanding all these different disciplines, do you start to understand fast fashion."

Mr Gombrich also pointed out that world has changed so much in the last 20 years because of the internet, yet most universities have not adapted from the 19th Century model.

"With students, they still chop and put them into boxes," he said. "But you can learn poetry, then equally learn machine learning and data science.

Co-founders Chris Persson, Carl Gombrich and Ed Fidoe. (London Interdisciplinary School)

"What we are seeing now is that students, more than ever, feel a connection to what is going on in the real world but are in an academic environment that is not necessarily connecting to it."

"The big difference with traditional universities is that you are problem-based and have to learn these interdisciplinary methods, which are quantitative and qualitative," Mr Fidoe added.

The LIS campus location will be announced later this year, although bosses say it will be located in London's Zone 1 or 2, with students living as close as possible to "create a community".

For 2020, pupils can apply directly to the school on a yet-to-be confirmed date next week until January - so it can be in addition to their UCAS five.

One of LIS's

The entry requirements are focused on diversity with no grade minimum bar set for grades.

The university looks at the context of education, personal background and family to understand the individual's achievement given their starting point in life.

On Saturday, the school is holding one of its themed "Discovery Days" in Whitechapel, where 40 school pupils get to grill the team about job prospects, the student set-up and how the degree works.

They will also do an interdisciplinary workshop to approach problems surrounding fast fashion.

One of LIS's

The university has already been flooded with interest from sixth formers around the country.

One prospective student, Tiffany Pethick said: ""Why am I excited to apply? To be frank, the global problems we face scare me. And what scares me even more? The little that is being done to tackle them.

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"LIS poses as a breath of fresh air - a place where like-minded people can tackle current problems in a stimulating and creative environment. I want to offer solutions, rather than complaining about what we already know."

Meanwhile Zeynep Sahin said: “I believe a person is more than a few letters on a piece of paper, and those letters shouldn't be the sole decider of our futures.

"LIS is really the university that looks at the individual rather than the grades and makes you believe that we are finally breaking out of the traditional university and education system."

Edward Walker added: “The main reason for my interest in LIS is that I don't want to limited to studying the world from one perspective. It's important to consider every component and viewpoint to truly understand and solve an issue.”

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