Celebrating 25 years of Natural Sciences

Helena Lake, Department Coordinator, Department of Natural Sciences

Promotional leaflet entitled ‘A New Degree in Natural Sciences’, University of Bath, 1994.
Promotional leaflet entitled ‘A New Degree in Natural Sciences’, University of Bath, 1994.

Helena Lake uses archives to help plan a birthday event for the Department of Natural Sciences.

The Natural Sciences programme started at the University of Bath in 1994. The ‘department’ had never held an alumni event so we decided to celebrate the anniversary and thought it would be a good way to engage with our alumni. Meetings with the Alumni team started happening and the event began to take shape. Given our alumni would, at most, be in their early forties, we decided we would need to make it a family friendly event. I imagined interactive stalls, activity stations, children’s packs and so on. As for the alumni, as well as a talk and tour of campus, I hoped for an amazing display, with pictures and documents from the archives illustrating the evolution of the Natural Sciences programme from 1994 to 2019.

So, I excitedly trotted off to the Library to see what delights I could unearth in the University Archives. Not a lot, it turned out. No fanfare was made when Bath launched this degree. No mention of it in Topics, the staff newspaper at the time, or Spike, the student magazine. We did manage to find the Senate paper that proposed the new degree programme and the original Natural Sciences publicity leaflet. But the display I imagined was suddenly looking rather forlorn and empty.

We didn’t give up. We explored more sources and dug a bit deeper, and managed to find some extra pieces of information and photographs that I could use in the display. We were also able to splice together an entertaining marketing video from Chemistry in the 1990s which took the viewer back in time to a very different looking campus and set of hair styles. This video was used in the talk given by the current and previous Heads of Natural Sciences. With a few aerial photos sourced from Fotoweb and the University Archives, plus some old t-shirts staff members found, I managed to put together a display that pretty much matched what I had imagined.

On the day (15th June), we had about 15 children who got to hold millipedes and other creepy crawlies, make neurons out of pipe cleaners or learn all about micro plastics from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies. During the talk, the children could colour in their fortune tellers or do word searches in their activity book. All guests were also given a 25th anniversary branded reusable water bottle.

When the campus tours (which incorporated a fun quiz for the children) were finished, everyone met back up for afternoon tea (unfortunately it was too wet to be beside the lake but we had a good alternative space in the East Building). To keep the boredom at bay, there were giant garden games laid out for anyone who wanted to play and of course, some delicious birthday cake.

About this story

Promotional leaflet entitled ‘A New Degree in Natural Sciences’, University of Bath, 1994.
University Archives
Catalogue Reference:
EXT 20/1994
Archival material