Nature and the Environment - The 53rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

University of Birmingham
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research
Saturday 28th (09:00) - Monday 30th March 2020 (18:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Nature and the environment underpinned Byzantine life but have been little studied.  How the Byzantines responded to and understood the landscape, however, enables crucial insights into East Roman perceptions of the world.   

Nature and the environment underpinned Byzantine life but have been little studied.  How the Byzantines responded to and understood the landscape, however, enables crucial insights into East Roman perceptions of the world.   

Modern interest in the environment and eco-history makes this theme pertinent and timely. Current research on climate change and how it affected the East Mediterranean creates new paradigms for our understanding of Byzantine interactions with the environment.

The 53rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies draws together Byzantine literary and visual responses to nature and the environment as well as showcasing the most recent scientific research on historical climate change and environmental management in Byzantium. 

  • Symposiarch: Dr Ruth Macrides
  • Symposium organisers: Professor Leslie Brubaker and Dr Dan Reynolds

Register now

Nature and the Environment: Information

The Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, University of Birmingham, looks forward to welcoming you to Birmingham on the 28 March 2020. Your delegate packs, which will include your programme and any further information about your stay, will be available for collection from the Alan Walters Building upon arrival at the symposium. For speakers delivering the main papers, you will be contacted separately with details of your accommodation by a member of the organising committee.

This symposium was originally planned by Dr Ruth Macrides (University of Birmingham) and will be dedicated to her memory. The first two sessions of the symposium will consist of tributes to Ruth’s life and career by her former students and colleagues.

53rd Spring Symposium programme 

Please let the organising committee know if you require a paper copy of the programme in advance at 

Post-symposium workshop for postgraduate members, post-doctoral fellow and early career researchers 

Environmental History of Byzantium 

The first annual SPBS workshop aimed at Byzantinists who are just beginning their careers in the discipline will be held immediately following the Annual Spring Symposium, on the afternoon of Monday, 30 March 2020.  The topic is very timely indeed:  the environmental history of Byzantium.  Places are limited (25 maximum), so please register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. There is no charge for members of the SPBS who have registered for the Symposium.  Deadline for official registration is Wednesday 18 March 2020 (though if not all places are filled we will be happy to allow additional participants on the day, including more senior scholars) and we will notify those accepted on Thursday 19 March.  A box lunch will be provided for all participants; please also notify us of any dietary requirements on the registration portal. 

Environmental History of Byzantium programme 

We have collected some information that you may find helpful prior to your arrival. 

Getting to campus

‘Nature and the Environment’ will take place on the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus which can easily be accessed by public transport or car. Details of how to reach us can be found here:

Purchasing train tickets

Train tickets, which are cheaper if booked in advance, can be purchase online and collected at any UK train station from or bought directly from the train companies at the following websites.

From London Euston: (Quicker but more expensive)

From London Marylebone: (Slower but cheaper)

The University of Birmingham has its own train station called ‘University’. Trains depart every 20 minutes from Birmingham New Street Station (usually from platform12b).       


If you wish to travel by taxi during your stay, the University of Birmingham recommends using TOA Taxis which can be contacted here:
TOA Tel: 0121 427 8888

Alternatively, the Castle Cars company, which is recommended by the Guild of Students, can be contacted here:
Castle Cars Tel: 0121 472 2222

If you wish to travel directly to campus by taxi, we recommended that you ask to be dropped off at the North Gate on Prichatts Road. This will leave you with the shortest and most direct route to the symposium location. Except in the case of special arrangements for delegates with mobility issues, the campus is a traffic-free zone and cars are not permitted to enter.


University-run Pay and Display parking (charges apply Monday-Friday) for delegates is available adjacent to campus, close to the symposium venue, in the Prichatts Road Car Park.  Further information on parking and charges can be found here:

On campus

Nature and the Environment will be hosted at the University of Birmingham’s main campus in Edgbaston, Birmingham.  The campus offers a variety of facilities, including shops, banks and cash points and a number of cafeterias and bars. Please ask a member of the organising committee for further details.

Symposium venue

Nature and the Environment will be hosted in the Alan Walters Building (R29) located on the north side of the campus.  A PDF campus map can be downloaded here:


The University of Birmingham hosts a number apps which offer information and services that may be useful to you during your stay. Details of these, and how to download them, can be accessed here:

Disability access

The University of Birmingham is fully compliant with European Union regulations for disability access. Further information can be found here:

Please do not hesitate to contact us at if you require any further information or assistance.


The University of Birmingham is staffed by a 24-hour security team that regularly patrols campus and other sites owned by the university. If you should encounter any problems during your stay, or require further advice, please contact the UB Safe team here:


The University of Birmingham’s main library (map reference R30) is open seven days a week. External members (including SCONUL card holders) may apply for a day pass at the library reception which allows them to use the library facilities.  Further information can be found here:

Staying in Birmingham

Places to stay

The University of Birmingham has a wide range of accommodation for events which can be reserved through Venue Bham at:

Alternatively, the city centre has a numerous hotels and youth hostels which are in easy reach of campus. Further information on visiting Birmingham can be accessed here:

Places to eat

Birmingham city centre has over 300 restaurants and bars to choose from, should you wish to venture out into the city. Details of the best dining spots in the city can be found here:

Important contact details


The University of Birmingham is close to one of the city’s main hospitals (Queen Elizabeth Hospital Selly Oak) which runs a 24-hour accident and emergency service.

Emergency contact numbers 999 or 112.

Should you need to visit a doctor during your stay, details of out of hours and emergency appointments can be found here:

Consular assistance

There are a number of consular offices in Birmingham should you require assistance from the consular authorities. Details may found here:

Book fair

The Symposium will host a book fair, with a variety of new and pre-used books, on Byzantine and Medieval Studies. The fair will located in the Alan Walters Building.

Image: Hailstorm devastating crops; Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzos, 9th century (Paris BNF gr.510, f.78r)