Cumberland Lodge strongly encourages all visiting student groups hosting subsidised retreats to include a St Catharine's Session in their programme.
Students in conversation at Cumberland Lodge

St Catharine's sessions are designed to encourage students to reflect critically on the ethical and intergenerational dimensions of topical societal issues that are outside of their own fields of study. 

They take the form of an interactive, round-table discussion of about an hour in duration, based on a briefing pack and short readings provided by the session leader (usually a member of our Programme or Executive team).

These sessions are a long-standing Cumberland Lodge tradition, inspired by our founding principles as an educational foundation.

Available sessions

We are pleased to offer the following sessions, each of which can be facilitated by a member of our team:

The Future of Democracy
In light of the decline of democracies globally, this session explores the attraction and efficacy of democracy in current digital times. Questions include:

  • Is the decline of democracy inevitable?
  • Who should have the right to vote?
  • Do social media platforms strengthen or undermine democracy?

How Should We Respond to the Climate Crisis?
This session explores where responsibilities lie in the climate crisis, and examines which trade-offs might be acceptable for individuals and society, to help turn the tide on climate change. Questions include:

  • Should we all be expected to make lifestyle changes and become activists?
  • Can technology alone solve the climate crisis? For example, how can we negotiate the trade-off between natural beauty and installing new technology that benefits us all, and how can we tackle ‘NIMBYism’?
  • Should international development be restricted in the light of climate change?
  • Are current political systems adequate for tackling the climate crisis?

These sessions were developed by our Cumberland Lodge Fellows, with guidance from our Programme Director, and presented in person to our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, in spring 2020, before being launched.

Find out more

To find out more, please contact our Programme team at