Contrary to popular opinion, purgatory doesn’t actually feature in the bible. Some have argued that it was implied by particular biblical phraseology, or that its existence owes to the moral indigence of the Catholic church in their eternal quest to scare as many children as possible. Perhaps it was one of those things that Christ had planned to get around to after Dad got him down from the cross? Personally though, I think there is a much simpler explanation. Purgatory is LSE100.
There are three things that the LSE should do to redress this. The first is obviously a non-starter: it should be opt-out. The idea that forcing a group of hungover misanthropes together for a class they didn’t pick and won’t be graded on is obviously not the panacea to adolescent ignorance that it seemed like in the sociology common-room. Allowing the uninterested to leave would solve the initial problem of ensuring everyone there wanted to be there. LSE will never accept this, because they are fairly aware that most of us would rather not show up to the course they have spent millions developing. Fortunately there are two more serious solutions.
The second is that is it should be streamed by ability. Anyone who has been forced to sit through a waffle on the post-truth era by someone without care or capability to speak about it will know that nothing is more frustrating, nor apt, than such rambling on. LSE100 is designed to “complement intellectual grounding in [students’] discipline with a broad understanding of different ways of thinking.” Assuming that all students come to LSE with an equal, or even fairly comparable understanding of their own and other disciplines is clearly deeply flawed and should be addressed. There is no need for the reverse-goldilocks approach the school currently employs, where the content is too challenging or too easy for the vast majority. A rigorous evaluation undertaken in Michaelmas of first year would solve this.
The third is that the classes and course need to count for something. An internship needs to be on offer. Or money. Or uni credit. Or a puppy. But something. I think I can say that literally no one has time to worry about things that don’t matter to them and unfortunately no jejune jeremiad on civic responsibility is going to convince anyone at this stage. If by 18 you haven’t already figured out the importance of reading the news then I find it nearly impossible to believe LSE100’s current incarnation is going to disabuse you.
The course is a good idea, but it needs change if it is to shake its yoke of being a doss. As it is, even if it’s not a part in Dante’s version of the Divine Comedy, I think a lot of us have a sense there’s someone upstairs laughing at us for sitting through it.