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Welcome back to another week in LANS! This week, we’re reporting on an insightful lecture given by interdisciplinary Professor Tom McLeish as part of our cultural programme.

But first, another round of industrial action has been taken by members of academic and professional services staff. We’d like to assure our readers that campus will remain open and many staff participating in the strike will ensure students are kept in the loop through our virtual learning environment Canvas – LANS have set up a page for students to report strike action so our professional services can chase up missing content with each department so they can pass on information. Students may choose to support the strikes by refusing to cross the picket line and by writing to those who run the university.

This term’s Distinguished Lecture gave students an opportunity to hear from interdisciplinarian Professor Tom McLeish, whose remarkable expertise connects Natural Philosophy and physics in the Department of Physics at University of York. Before the talk, a reception allowed students and staff to mingle and set the scene – and a variety of snacks were present to prepare us for the lecture.

Professor Tom McLeish with Dr Julian Pänke, Social Sciences College Lead for LANS and our Cultural Programme Director

Professor Tom McLeish with Dr Julian Pänke, Social Sciences College Lead  for LANS and our Cultural Programme Director

McLeish used the talk to highlight some of the key findings from his latest book, The Poetry and Music of Science, which explores the creativity shared by scientific research and artistic production. He explained that science is about interpretation: using the imagination to simplify the world into experiments and envisioning how experimental data can explain the world’s behaviour. Then, McLeish explored the history of science through a variety of poetry through the modern era, including Romantic poets Keats and Blake, mirroring how science itself is subject to interpretation.

Throughout the talk, McLeish illustrated how research in any discipline is inherently creative; by the end of the research something will have been created, whether an essay or a set of data. This helped to ground the talk, ensuring it was more meaningful and applicable than an abstract exploration of ‘creativity’. McLeish pointed out that across the disciplines, one can conceptualise a similar creative process across all of them as an idea meets constraints and is eventually brought to fruition – a process he noticed through conversation with a variety of academics, from artists to historians.

Through understanding all research as having a common grounding in creativity, anyone who researches in academia can see how their research fits in a wider creative conquest; crossing disciplines to develop a firmer understanding of reality.

If you are in the Birmingham area, here are some events going on around the uni we think you might enjoy!

  • As part of the UCU industrial action, the BUCU Teach Out offers a variety of talks and workshops on a diverse array of politically charged topics exploring education, climate change and emancipation, for example. I can think of a whole bunch of students who would find a talk they’re interested in. Read a list of the events here.
  • As the University recently attained a Bronze Award in the Hedgehog Friendly Campus Scheme, it would be nice to work on getting the Silver Award – and you can help by joining an upcoming litter pick next week and registering to the workbook here. The litter pick is on Wed 26 Feb around the Medical School and Vincent Drive. (Thanks to Dean Diana Spencer for those last two recommendations!)
  • The International Development Department Guest Seminar Series has been underway since the start of term and this week, Dr Jonathan Kennedy from Queen Mary University of London will present a seminar titled Is the Gates Foundation Good for Global Health? The Gates Foundation’s Grant-Making Program and the World Health Organisation. Wed 26 Feb, 16.30-18.00, Muirhead Tower 417

To our alumni, it’s not too late to sign up to our Cultural Programme events! Here’s what we still have planned for this term:

  • Exploring grime with Ian Clarke from Sound Community LTD. Date tbc, but please still express your interest to be notified when more information becomes available.
  • Thursday 5th March, 10am until 6pm – Exploring Midlands Industrial Heritage in Smethwick (transport to be provided).
  • Exploring creativity with puppets with guest, Sophie Huckfield. Wednesday 11th March, 3pm in the LANS hub.
  • Six: The Musical, Friday 13th March @ 6pm. This will be at The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton (transport to be provided).

If you would like to attend any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact our Cultural Programme lead, Julian, at

Formal season can be a stressful time of year, particularly when you’re trying to cut down on fast fashion. If you’re stressing about an outfit for any upcoming formal events (such as the LANS Society Ball this Friday), be sure to check out @hirestreetuk on Instagram. They have LOADS of formalwear to hire, ranging from high end to high street. You borrow at a fraction of the retail price and by doing so, also cut back on consumption. Let’s try and combat the “buy once, wear once” mentality that so many of us can slip into.

Congrats on making it to the bottom! If you can think of any events or student achievements that you think we should feature in the newsletter, please email them to us at or (or come and find us in the LANS Hub). Give us feedback on our social media presence too!

Thanks for reading,

Adam & Katharine
Your LANS Media and Communications Ambassadors