PhD student Amanda McBride reflects on her experiences as a Cumberland Lodge Scholar
At the beginning of September I was inducted into the Cumberland Lodge, an educational charity tackling social divisions by promoting creative thinking and inclusive dialogue. The Lodge was founded in 1947 when King George VI very kindly allowed Amy Bueller use of a house in Windsor Great Park, traditionally the home of the Warden of the Park. Bueller’s intention was to use the facility to bring together academics and those invested in social issues from across the board to reflect and debate on their work and its impacts. Bueller’s book Darkness over Germany was published in the same year and details various trips she made to the country to run symposiums with academics before war was declared. The upshot of these visits was that Bueller became committed to the idea that communication across boundaries (academic disciplines, faiths, political positions) would foster cultures of tolerance and ultimately peace. This is something the Lodge has done since that time, bringing together those with an interest in the ‘betterment of society’ to mutually engage in discussion. Each year six PhD students join the Lodge as Scholars for a two year period in which they work to support the interdisciplinary and cross sectional conferences and seminars that are run as part of its program. As a Cumberland Lodge Scholar I will attend a number of events with the goal of stimulating conversation and debate, offering interdisciplinary perspectives and helping to find common ground where it exists.
My research looks at how pleasure is experienced and regulated in social contexts; I was drawn to the Lodge as I am interested in how this might be related to ‘social betterment’ and healthier, happier communities.
My research looks at how pleasure is experienced and regulated in social contexts; I was drawn to the Lodge as I am interested in how this might be related to ‘social betterment’ and healthier, happier communities. I met my fellow 2017-19 Scholars over the first weekend of September at our first Scholars Retreat, a residential weekend hosted at the very beautiful Lodge. Our cohort is 7 rather than the usual 6, as we have an additional member in support of CARA, and our research areas are suitably diverse including history, chemistry and IT ethics. The weekend included a Friday night lecture by Claire Foster-Gilbert of the Westminster Abbey Institute and later a drinks reception and dinner. Saturday was focused on communications workshops to support our role as Scholars- covering writing styles and standards adhered to by the Lodge as well as public speaking training. Evening dinner was followed by heated conversations that lasted into the wee hours, covering all sorts of social, political and philosophical issues. On Sunday morning we debated the value of free speech before a final lunch together and then departures. It was an extremely stimulating weekend in many ways, and I look forward to my next visit there.