Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences Alumni Association

A letter from Cillian Ryan

Cillian, the first dean of LANS, has written a letter to all alumni reminiscing on setting up LANS and the first year.  Alumni can click on the link for the full version.

Before you got here! The origins of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Birmingham

Sometime around 2010, when I had the privilege of being one of the academic representatives on the governing Council of the University, the Vice-Chancellor invited an external speaker to address us on a range of new developments emerging internationally in higher education.  One of the key developments he reported was...

Read the full version of the letter.

A letter from Diana Spencer

Dear Class of 2017,

When I first met you, what struck me was the integrated and mutually supportive quality of your identity as a group. You are all strong individuals, with the kinds of quirks and dramas (and achievements) that implies, but you have also, in my mind and to the LANS team, been very much a cohort in a genuine sense. We all hope that this is a relationship dynamic that you will continue to develop and benefit from because as every ‘pioneer’ knows, one is only as good as one’s support network! You are already excellently equipped in that respect, and we hope that a developing suite of resources will grow with and for you, our first graduates.

All of us have memories of signature moments in your cohort’s time with us — I expect that this marks the beginning of a new phase in those stories. I recall the determination you all showed to make me aware of the depth of the pride you felt in your LA(N)S all the way back at my beginning as Dean; the support you all showed in that difficult first year when I was negotiating to bring ‘Natural Sciences’ as a qualification into the programme was crucial to the growing success and visibility of LANS at the University. When I took up the Deanship, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir David Eastwood, impressed upon me his own passion for a ‘liberal’ education in the best sense, and I believe that as our first graduating cohort, our first ambassadors, you embody that vision.

As you know, LANS is always striving to develop. Our Entrepreneurial behaviour modules are one example of that, new for 2017/18. Another example is that we are bringing together in Birmingham a group of LA(NS) leaders from across the UK on 4 November, to enable myself and other leaders in liberal education in the UK to begin to develop a mission statement showcasing what unites us (as well as effectively articulating what distinguishes us). We will be inviting alumni from every institution that has some(!) — this will represent a significant stage of my work in LANS because it sees us growing into a nationwide group rather than a set of diasporic disciplinary refugees (I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you all know what I am getting at!).

To conclude: we are enormously proud of you all! Some of my memories will be snapshot-like (vivid stories from your Year Abroad experiences; reminding you to keep the noise down on the Eurostar to Brussels when that grumpy woman complained(!)); others, reflective of the intellectual energy you have shared with us (the ‘bee video’; the extraordinary work involved in the independent interdisciplinary research projects this year). We will start to miss you, but not for too long: we all hope that you will become lively members of the extended LANS community and continue to share your triumphs and adventures with us for many years to come!

With all my best wishes,
Diana

Professor Diana Spencer
Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences

Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences graduation 2017

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