Cumberland Lodge runs free Knowledge Cafés for sixth-formers and university students, to inspire creative and critical thinking about pressing societal issues.
Sixth-formers taking part in a Cumberland Lodge Knowledge Cafe at The Marist School, Sunninghill

Our interactive Knowledge Cafés explore the contemporary relevance of accounts of people’s lives under the rise of National Socialism in 1930s Germany, as told in our founder Amy Buller’s book Darkness over Germany.

By revisiting these fascinating pre-war experiences, we inspire reflection and critical thinking about current issues such as the lure of populism and nationalism, the responsibilities of young people in upholding and progressing democratic society, and the role that inter-generational exchange can play in helping us to learn lessons from past experience.


These 90-minute sessions take the form of small-group guided discussions, in schools or higher-education settings. They are particular relevant to young people learning about History, Politics, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, or related subjects.

We offer participants the chance to broaden their knowledge and understanding of history, citizenship and current affairs, by taking part in a series of short discussions, in small groups, guided by our staff.  We aim to provide a nurturing environment, where young people feel confident to exchange views with one another, and explore different perspectives constructively.

These roundtable discussions are followed by a final plenary, in which participants are encouraged to share their ideas and learning, and compare their responses.

Recently, our Knowledge Cafes have been held at The Marist School in Sunninghill, Berkshire (involving A-level pupils from a range of local schools), at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, and at Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

We welcome enquiries from schools and higher education institutions across the UK, throughout the year.

Study guide

We provide a free study guide that highlights key chapters from Darkness over Germany, and offers thought-provoking reflections and questions for discussion, in an accessible style.

Our original study guide was published in January 2018, in collaboration with the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), for use in university or faith group settings. It featured guest contributions from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, and the novelist and speaker, Salley Vickers.

We are currently working on a new edition, tailored to the needs of younger, school-age students, which is due to be published later in 2020.

Find out more

Please contact our Programme team at to find out more, or to enquire about making a booking.

You can find out more about Darkness over Germany, and how its publication led to the establishment of the educational foundation at Cumberland Lodge, in the aftermath of World War II, here.

As part of our mission to empower people, through dialogue and debate, to tackle the causes and effects of social division, we involve young people in all aspects of our work, to nurture their potential as future leaders and change-makers.