There’s a new university in London called The London Interdisciplinary School (LIS) that has created a degree centred around “tackling real-world problems” through an interdisciplinary curriculum.

On their website, they specifically mention problems such as climate change, poverty, and the ethics of AI being part of core focus of the degree.

Will MacAskill has expressed interest in creating an EA aligned university (source: and claimed that such a university would “ would include teaching and a broader range of topics and disciplines” and “provide generalist degrees on all EA subfields”

Judging by LIS’s website this seems to be exactly what they’re doing.

What are your thoughts?

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Jackson Wagner

Oct 30, 2022


I am a big fan of the idea of creating an EA-aligned university (or of buying EA influence at an existing prestigious university), but this new program doesn't seem particularly EA-aligned to me:

  • I haven't heard about any specific effort by the EA community to create / advise / support this new school.
  • The worldview that comes across from the school's website and writing seems more like "scattered list of buzzwords that might appeal to idealistic high-school kids" than the kind of clear thinking and willingness to acknowledge tradeoffs that is a hallmark of EA.  They do mention things like the "ethics of AI", but this seems to be in a context of worries like algorithmic racial bias, rather than anything related to existential risk.

Causes like climate change and poverty are mentioned, but only as part of a long litany including also "obesity, mental health, ethical nature of supply chains, ethics of fashion and how clothes are sourced..."  I think it would be fairer to say that the London Interdisciplinary School might be the first ESG-aligned university!

Personally, I think the ESG-like worldview of this new university is pretty uninspiring.  However, in general I'm a huge fan of anybody who tries to start new universities and new education models (including things like the libertarian-themes University of Austin, or intensive coding bootcamps like Lambda School / Bloom), since I think the world stands to benefit immensely from more experimentation in the space.  So I'd be interested in LIS's experiments into structuring majors differently (not based on traditional academic fields) and structuring classes / assignments differently.

Agustín Covarrubias

Oct 30, 2022


While after doing a cursory reading of their prospectus and materials it does seem like a very refreshing take on the university model, I don't think this really fits the “EA-aligned” mark. It might be, however, a good example of how (to some degree) an EA University could look like.

Having said that, they seem to center their curricula around specific problems they explore in each term, which they showcase in their curriculum, giving examples such as “Inequality” and “Sustainability”. I think the least I would expect from an “EA University” is some notion of cause prioritization or acknowledgment of tradeoffs (as Jackson Wagner mentioned).

AFAIK, there are ongoing projects for “EA-aligned universities”, but they are extremely early-stage as of now. 


As the university is so new, it seems that its curriculum is subject to change and can/will be influenced by its students. So, maybe if students started an EA society at the university and got the faculty on board with it, it could set the institution on an EA-trajectory. 

However, I am sceptical of this, as it seems that there may be somewhat of an anti-capitalist sentiment in the university. I don't have much evidence for this other than that they follow many socialists/anti-capitalists on their official Twitter (@weareLIS). I raise this as a concern... (read more)

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