Letters to our alumni

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

Welcome to the graduating class of 2018: you are now, as a body of graduates, becoming a significant force!

We were thrilled to celebrate the significant growth in our community on Monday as we welcomed a second group of graduates to the LANS wider family - what a magnificent day, masterminded as usual by our incredible professional services team. In this year’s reception, we saw outstanding student achievements rewarded, with prizes acknowledging the wonderful work done by LANS students across the programme as a whole. It was a delight to share that achievement with friends and family, and especially in the context of the ERI Atrium, decked out as it was with this year’s 'Interdisciplinary Research Project’ posters and the products of our Entrepreneurial modules.

This was an emotional celebration for graduands, of course, but also for me - with a year of research leave upcoming I will be entrusting LANS to our own Dr Julia Myatt (our current Director for Natural Sciences) for 2018/19. It will be exciting for me to see what new initiatives and also what enhancements to current work Julia focuses on, and I’ll be keeping a close and appreciative eye on progress so I don’t get too far adrift. If any of you plan to make a visit to LANS or Birmingham, do please let us know: we are very keen to see you and hear your stories!

As in 2017/18, we will be inviting you to keep involved in various more and less formal ways, and we hope that as a group, and as you grow, you will be eager to support future generations of LANS students by sharing your tips, wisdom, and experiences. We have some plans afoot for transforming the LANS Community into something really powerful in terms of networking and development opportunities, and we will be in touch more formally about that over the summer. With your help, we believe that we can make this now substantial community work very hard for all of us, keeping our connections not only alive, but dynamic and meaningful.

New for 2018/19, will be the initiation of our projected Advisory Board - we are excited about its possibilities in linking LANS robustly to key stakeholders, and we will be asking for expressions of interest for an alumna or alumnus representative, so please do keep an eye out for communications over the summer.

Finally, we can now update you on our move to our new home! It has been an aspiration for the past four years to get ourselves a space better suited to LANS, and at last we have succeeded - we didn't move far, but we are delighted to announce that we took over the large and well-appointed ERI ground floor space that previously housed the Digital Humanities Hub. Those of you who know the space will be wowed, I am sure. Everyone else, please come and see us in our new home. Our (now) regular drop-in weekly coffee/biscuits get-togethers will continue in the new academic year, and we hope to see many of you at cultural, social, and careers events.

I hope to hear lots from all of you during 2018/19!

Professor Diana Spencer
Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences 

Hi all

Our second-years are finishing their exams and starting to prepare for their year abroad.  Would anyone be willing to act as a point of contact for them if they have any questions over the coming weeks?  It might be that you went to the same institution, the same city or simply the same country.  Whichever it is, your experience would be invaluable for them.  If you went to any of the following and would be happy to speak to them, please let me know (on Facebook or S.Scott@bham.ac.uk) and I’ll be able to pair people up.

  • Hong Kong
  • Melbourne
  • Amsterdam
  • Illinois
  • University of British Colombia
  • University of New Brunswick


Spring 2018 newsletter!

We hope you’re having a good start to 2018.  We’ve got some important news we wanted to share with you.

First, we’d like to know how everyone’s post-Uni life is going.  Whether you’re deciding on a career, undertaking further study, applying for a job or settling into one, we’d like to know…

Read the full newsletter

Happy New Year!

We hope that you’ve had a good summer and are enjoying post-Birmingham life.  We wanted to keep you up to speed with what’s happening in Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, and make you aware of some upcoming events so that you can keep your diaries free.

We’re proud to say...

Read the newsletter

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,

Professor Diana Spencer
Dean of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences