Our Emerging International Leaders programme equips international students with the skills and insight necessary to drive debate, influence policy and build a powerful global network around Freedom of Religion or Belief.

About three-quarters of the world’s population live in countries that restrict these freedoms or fail to protect them. 

This annual programme was launched in 2016, with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Today, it is supported by our charitable funds and run in partnership with the Chevening and Commonwealth Scholarship schemes.

We aim to empower international postgraduate students to become advocates of human rights in their universities and home countries. 

Every year, 50 high-potential candidates, from universities across the UK, are selected to participate in three residential study retreats at Cumberland Lodge. On completing the programme, they become part of our expanding Cumberland Lodge global community.

Key themes

The programme focuses on:

  • Why is freedom of religion or belief important?
  • How does freedom of religion or belief intersect with other freedoms?
  • What are the successes/failings of existing national and international policies on freedom of religion or belief?
  • How can existing human rights frameworks be supplemented, supported and implemented?

We also facilitate networking opportunities, to encourage ongoing collaboration and dialogue amongst participants and alumni of the programme.

You can read more about the experiences of some of our alumni in Issue 6 of Commonwealth Scholarship Commission's Common Knowledge magazine (pages 24-25), available here.


Residential retreats

Our residential retreats in Windsor Great Park are spread throughout the academic year. Accommodation and meals are provided, and we offer an interactive programme of lectures, workshops, and peer-to-peer learning.

Participants have the chance to engage in multi-disciplinary discussions with academics, advocates, religious leaders, policymakers and activitists.

We consider the significance of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the broader legislative background and human rights framework for FoRB. 

We also go on to examine topics such as: the role of religion in the public sphere, religious literacy and inter-faith dialogue, and practical responses to violations of FoRB around the world. 

Find out more about our three residential retreats:

Applications for 2019-20

Applications for our 2019-20 programme are now open! Please see the downloads box on this page for the application form and a list of frequently asked questions.

The application deadline is Friday 1 November 2019.

Our 2019-2020 retreats will take place on:

  • 13-15 December 2019
  • 24-26 January 2020
  • 3-5 April 2020

For any enquiries, please contact our Programme Department, by emailing: programmeteam@cumberlandlodge.ac.uk.

Chevening & Commonwealth Scholarship Schemes