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Liberal Arts & Natural Sciences: Alien Taskforce X – Session 1 – Interdisciplinary Problem Solving With Dr Betsy Porritt & Dr Ilija Rašović From University of Birmingham

26th September 2023 @ 16:00 - 16:45

This is session 1 of a 3 part series with sessions 2 & 3 taking place on 3 October & 10 October 2023 @ 16:00 – 16:45

This exciting 3 part online event for KS5 student groups is delivered by Dr Betsy Porritt and Dr Ilija Rašović who are representing the prestigious Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences (LANS) programme at University of Birmingham. Through an alien simulation game, Betsy and Ilija will share the unique interdisciplinary style of university education practised on the programme.

An unidentified object has appeared in the centre of Birmingham. What is it, where did it come from, what are its intentions and what will happen next? Your job, as researchers in the Working-group for Other-worldly Wonders (WOW) is to form a taskforce and develop a strategy that will protect both the object and planet earth from possible annihilation.

In mini multidisciplinary research groups, you will develop a strategy for how to respond to the sudden appearance of an alien object. Over the course of the three sessions, each group will present a strategy of interaction with the alien, and respond to the consequences of those actions. At the end of the sessions, we will be able to see if the group actions have led to survival or destruction.

By taking part in this simulation activity, students will gain:

  • Experience of working in groups to problem solve
  • Understanding of how different subjects and disciplines work
  • Confidence in speaking up for your own skills and knowledge
  • Insight into paths you could follow with your own A-level subjects
  • Knowledge and expertise from academics working in a multidisciplinary environment

The sessions work with the same student groups across the three weeks and provide a framework within which students can apply academic rigour and intellectual honesty to develop their critical thinking, communication and team working skills.


Speaker Profiles (Please click): Dr Betsy Porritt & Dr Ilija Rašović


As a live, participative event, this session will not be recorded but slides and other resources will be shared after the event, where available.


Suitable for: The sessions will be group based. Each group will include 4 or 5 KS5 students, ideally representing a range of A Level (and equivalent) subjects.

Preparation/Pre-Reading: There will be some preparation in advance of each session. What is required will be outlined fully through direct communication with teachers but it is anticipated that it will require approximately 1.0 hour of students’ time each week.

Teachers will be provided with a briefing document in advance of the first session so that they know what to expect and can fully brief their students.

The IT Setup: The event will be run on Bluejeans and, joining as a school group, we recommend connecting with one device and projecting onto a whiteboard. You will be able to interact with the university via a microphone and/or typed comments and questions. Full details will be sent to those who have registered prior to the event.

Booking a Place: This is free for schools and colleges. Places are limited for this series with University of Birmingham and selected schools/colleges will be contacted by Channel Talent to put forward groups to take part. If you are a teacher/member of school-college staff and are interested in future events like this, please get in touch using the contact form on this page.