We are building a powerful network of young people who are informed and equipped to protect freedom of religion or belief around the world.
International student at a Cumberland Lodge event

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

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 and to join our growing network of FoRB alumni.

** In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are not offering this programme in 2020-21. Please keep an eye on this webpage for details of future application rounds. **

Our focus

About three-quarters of the world’s population live in countries that restrict these freedoms or fail to protect them. 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 this recent edition of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission's Common Knowledge magazine (pages 24-25).

This short video was produced during our 70th anniversary year in 2017, to introduce our Emerging International Leaders programme.

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 activists.

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:

Find out more

For any enquiries, please contact our Programme team at

Making an impact

Here is what some of our recent participants had to say about this programme:


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