Applications are now open for Chevening and Commonwealth Scholars to join the 2017/18 Emerging International Leaders programme on Freedom of Religion of Belief (FoRB) at Cumberland Lodge.

Supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and now entering its second year, this programme aims to equip future leaders and opinion formers with the skills and insight to drive debate, influence policy and build a powerful global network around FoRB.

We are currently seeking 50 international students on postgraduate courses at UK universities to join us, through the Chevening and Commonwealth Scholarship schemes.

Key themes

Participants in this year's programme will take part in three residential retreats at Cumberland Lodge, on 'The Importance of FoRB', 'FoRB in Conflict' and 'FoRB in Action'. 

The students will have the chance to engage in multi-disciplinary discussions with academics, advocates, policymakers and activists in the field, and to explore topics ranging from the legislative basis for FoRB, the role of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, religion in the public sphere, religious literacy, and the role of inter-faith dialogue.

They will also work on practical responses to violataions of FoRB around the world, and explore FoRB in a contemporary, global context.

Key themes of the programme will include:

  • Why is FoRB important?

  • How does FoRB intersect with other freedoms?

  • What are the successes/failings of existing national and international policies on FoRB?

  • How can existing human rights frameworks be supplemented, supported and implemented?

First graduates

Last year's cohort of 50 Emerging International Leaders represented 28 nationalities and 35 UK universities, and they all came from countries that receive official development assistance from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They graduated from the programme in July 2017.

One of the participants, who comes from FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in north-western Pakistan, said: 'Cumberland Lodge and its programme has been a wonderful teaching experience. If I were to sum my experience in one word, it would be 'empathy'. I have had the pleasure of being around a diverse set of people, each bringing their own culture and views.

‘Girls from my area do not have the privilege of an education or a career and the boys see little opportunities to explore their potential and grow as individuals. There is a lot to be done for the youth of my area and I thank Cumberland Lodge for the role it has played in this. I am proud of my heritage, but I understand that old must give way to the new. This programme has given me the courage to step ahead and contribute towards it.'

Another 2016/17 participant commented, anonymously: 'The sense of empowerment which I acquired during the programme has made me realise that even small steps or actions undertaken by individuals can bear fruit and have a huge impact.

'The programme has invited me to become more self-reflective about my religious attitudes and beliefs and how the exposure to my religion has conditioned up upbringing and world view.'

Find out more

The deadline for applications for the 2017/18 programme is Friday 27 October 2017.

Further information on our Emerging International Leaders programme and how to apply can be found here.  Please read these pages, including the 'Frequently Asked Questions' section below, carefully before contacting us with queries.

To find out more about our 'Freedom' series of conferences, seminars, lectures and other educational activities for the academic year 2017/18, see here.

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm not a Commonwealth or Chevening Scholar but am interested in FoRB, am I eligible to apply?

No.  You must be enrolled on either of the above schemes and studying at a UK university in December 2017 in order to apply.

I'm not currently based in the UK, am I eligible to apply?

No.  You must be enrolled at a UK university and based in the UK in December 2017 in order to apply. 

I am a Chevening/Commonwealth Scholar but will not be in the UK for one or more of the retreats.  Are you able to fund travel outside the UK?

No.  We are not able to fund travel outside the UK.  However, if you meet the other eligibility criteria (Chevening/CSC Scholar enrolled at a UK institution) you may choose to fund your own travel from overseas

I am unable to attend one or more of the three retreats, am I still eligible to apply?

No.  Attendance at all three retreats is a requirement of the programme.