Talking In Our Time

I had a lot of fun guesting on the BBC Radio 4 show In Our Time, recently. I wrote up the experience for our students on the Liberal Arts and Sciences programme at Birmingham, but thought it actually sits comfortably here too 🙂

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What academics mostly do is spin yarns. Sometimes these develop into technical tapestries, as hard to unpick as the punchline is (we hope) world-shaking. Much of the time, we are chipping away at the knowledge edifice, trying to make a difference. We receive no training in communicating research intelligibly outside the academy, yet making our research into stories that resonate as widely and powerfully as possible is as central to modern universities as it is to their faculty and students. Despite the rhetorics of ivory-towers and ivied quads, our world is no more (nor less) exclusive than any comparable trade. Ideas are our currency, and this means that we tend to speak to whoever will listen.

Some academics (micro-)blog, many of us teach and write books and papers, explain what we do to diverse audiences (including friends, or people at bus-stops…) and like everyone, we try to adapt our discourse…

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Evaluating Europe — the Second Years’ Brussels trip

Although Rome will always be the beating heart of my Europe, a working trip to Brussels was illuminating and I wrote up the adventure for the Liberal Arts and Sciences blog…

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One of the perks of my role as Dean is that I was in a position to develop and participate in our new annual trip for second year Liberal Arts and Sciences students, taking the group to the heart of Europe: Brussels. This built on their first and second year core modules, studying the nature of modernity and crises facing humanity, and helped us all as a group to think hard about recent and forthcoming flash-points relating to European and UK politics.

We are fortunate at the University of Birmingham to have close research and development ties with continental Europe, and the University has an office in Brussels giving us a base for engaging with policy developments across the Union. To get our second years in the mood, the big questions we posed for the trip were:

  • When you hear “Brussels”, what does it represent? Does this change over the course of…

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Ovid’s Garden: Digging!

Miriam’s amazing “Ovid’s Garden” project, located at Winterbourne House & Gardens (University of Birmingham) represents a laboratory space for her PhD on Classical echoes in Italian Renaissance gardens, and also an imaginative way for enthusiasts to help shape a cutting-edge research project here in Brum.

Brava, Miriam!

naso's song

On a cold and wet day in November, a group of volunteers from the Classics & Ancient History department at the University of Birmingham and staff from Winterbourne House & Gardens braved the elements to begin work on Ovid’s Garden! We had the muddy task of lifting the turf from the site and digging the main path in front of the garden to make way for the hard landscaping elements.Blog MontageFuelled by some excellent cake and brownies, we lifted all the turf by midday and by the afternoon the site was completely cleared. Whilst digging the main path, we even unearthed some exciting finds, excavating clay pipes and pieces of pottery, identified by our resident archaeologist Meagan Mangum, which will be displayed at Winterbourne for visitors to see!ExcavatingNow the turf and the main pathway have been dug, the beds have been marked out and the remaining paths around these will need to be dug out as well. After this, edging…

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