This Autumn, Cumberland Lodge launches a new series of conferences, debates, consultations, retreats and workshops to explore what identities and belonging mean in the 21st Century, as society becomes increasingly divided and politics more polemical.

Throughout the academic year 2018-19, our 'Identities & Belonging' series will explore:

  • How governments can promote the multiple faiths, cultural differences, values, and viewpoints that characterise a pluralistic society 
  • Whether it is possible for society to accommodate diversity peacefully
  • How society can foster constructive cohesion across social classes and different cultures.

We will be addressing these pressing societal and ethical issues through an interdisciplinary exploration of the increasingly fluid identities and visions of belonging, involving people of all ages, from a wide range of different backgrounds and walks of life, from across the UK and beyond.

From 'Freedom'

‘Identities’ and ‘belonging’ were key themes we touched upon in our 20017-18 ‘Freedom’ series, which explored topics such as: freedom from hate crime; LGBTQI+ rights; freedom of religion and belief; and the crossover of public and private spheres in police surveillance.

Issues of identity often came to the fore in the course of this dialogue and debate, along with wider discussions about belonging, and how both identities and belonging manifest in diverse, multicultural and pluralistic societies. 

‘New perspectives’

Launching the ‘Identities & Belonging’ series, our Principal, Ed Newell, said: ‘Understanding who we are, and how we fit in, have become particularly pressing concerns in the UK today. They are crucial to our collective wellbeing if we are to live harmoniously as a society. 

‘This programme doesn’t shirt difficult issues: it actively embraces them. We look forward to gaining new perspectives and sharing our learning in the process, and inspiring people at all levels - including policymakers, academics, young people and frontline community workers - to work towards building stronger communities, both now and in the future.’ 


The first event in the series takes place at Cumberland Lodge on Thursday 18 October 2018. 'Exploring Identities & Belonging' will focus on the impact of age on identities, through a panel discussion with four Cumberland Lodge PhD fellows that will be moderated by journalist and broadcaster, Baroness Joan Bakewell, who was previously appointed by the UK Government to serve as a ‘voice’ for older people.

We will also be introducing a new annual event, later this month: the Cumberland Lodge Debate. In its inaugural year we will address the question, ‘What should it mean to be British?’ Our panellists are: 

  • Professor Anthony Heath
  • Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield
  • Patricia O’Lynn 
  • Anne Wafula Strike MBE. 

The event will take place in central London on Monday 22 October, and will be introduced and moderated by Evan Davis, former BBC Two Newsnight presenter and the latest presenter to join BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

Other events in the series include: 

Further details can be found here, including the downloadable series brochure.

Social media

News and updates about the series will be shared on our News & Media webpages, as well as on social media, using the hashtag #CLidentities.