Our Cumberland Lodge Scholars had the chance to present their ideas for inspiring students to promote social progress , to our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, on Sunday 23 February 2020.

Her Majesty joined us at midday to meet Scholars and staff in the Drawing Room at Cumberland Lodge. Eight of our current cohort of Cumberland Lodge Scholars had joined us for the weekend, to devise new St Catharine's Sessions for the student groups who visit us for study retreats with their universities or other higher education institutions.

Every year, Cumberland Lodge hosts around 4,000 students who come here from almost 90 university departments, to participate in residential study retreats, exploring a wide range of topics from within and outside of their fields of study. All visiting groups are asked to include a St Catharine's Session in their programme, to encourage students to discuss and think about pressing issues facing society today, and how those issues intersect with their academic work.

We regularly refresh the topics available as part of the St Catharine's Session programme, and increasingly involve our Cumberland Lodge Scholars in this process.

New St Catharine's Sessions

This year our Scholars have helped us to develop three new themes for discussion:

  1. The future of democracy
  2. Mental wellbeing and social media
  3. Responses to the climate crisis

Each session will be based around three set questions designed to spark discussion and the exchange of views, and case-studies to highlight different approaches to the topic.

The Scholars decided to work in groups to develop the new content and study materials. Having each had the chance to discuss their ideas for these with Her Majesty The Queen, on Sunday morning, Patricia O'Lynn, Heather Hatton and Inna Thalmann were invited to present their St Catharine's Session programme on The Future of Democracy.

Our three new St Catharine's Sessions will be available to visiting student groups from this spring.

Royal patronage

Her Majesty last visited Cumberland Lodge as part of our 70th anniversary celebrations in 2017. She has been Patron of the charity at Cumberland Lodge since 2003, as was Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother before her.

It was The Queen Mother and King George VI who helped to establish the educational foundation here in 1947, having been impressed by Darkness over Germany, a book published four years earlier, during the Second World War.

Darkness over Germany analysed and recounted the stories of Germans from all walks of life, including members of the Hitler Youth and Nazi leaders themselves, who were caught up in the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. Its author was Amy Buller, who became our founding Warden in 1947. The book was republished in the UK to mark our 70th anniversary year, and has also been published for the first time in the USA and in Germany, in recent years,

Our founders sought to avoid a repeat of what happened in Germany in the 1930s, by encouraging people to meet in a ‘safe’ space to exchange points of view and think creatively about the big issues facing society. That mission remains at the heart of our work today. You can find out more about this here.

Scholars' participation

The Cumberland Lodge Scholars who participated in last weekend's retreat were: 

  • Jess Adams (School of Arts and Digital Industries, University of East London)
  • Heather Hatton (History Department, University of Hull)
  • Anna Jungbluth (Department of Physics, University of Oxford)
  • Anna Kumacheva (Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Art, Lancaster University)
  • Matthew Leavesley (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln)
  • Patricia O'Lynn (School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen's University, Belfast)
  • Linamaria Pinto Escobar (Biology Department, Edge Hill University)
  • Inna Thalmann (Health Economics Research Centre, University of Oxford).

They are all working towards doctoral degrees at their respective universities, and were selected for our two-year Scholarship programme on the basis of their commitment to promoting progress towards more peaceful, open and inclusive societies, in their work and wider lives, as well as their academic merit and future aspirations.