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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Virtual delivery

Covid-19 changes everything; for CISL, one of the most significant changes will be seen in the way we educate people.

‘Locking down’ most of the world’s economic activity will profoundly change how organisations set strategy, develop people and deliver training. It will cause many organisations to fundamentally reconsider their purpose, value propositions and markets, to reconsider the future of work and the leadership and capabilities that they will need in future, and how they think about leadership development and investing in their people.

However, although the pace and scale of this shift will be significant, much of the change that we anticipate in relation to education and leadership development will not be completely new. Rather it will be an acceleration of trends that have been underway for several years to adapt to evolving learner needs and preferences, to increase scale and access, and to reduce international travel.


How we are responding across our education programmes

Over the past decade, CISL’s education programmes have increasingly needed to help individuals and organisations adapt to these trends. We have welcomed the opportunity to innovate alongside our clients and participants, to find effective ways to harness technology to reach new audiences in new ways to deliver high impact leadership and strategy programmes for major organisations, and to meet individual learning needs through graduate study and fully online courses. Our response to Covid-related disruption to in-person programmes draws on the deep insight and experience we have gained through this work over many years, enabling us to continue deliver powerful and effective education programmes during this period of lockdown.


Our approach

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have worked closely with our clients, faculty and participants to accelerate the delivery of fully online, engaging and interactive programmes, and will continue to build and share our learning to enable new forms of education in the future.

Online courses

CISL already offers a growing portfolio of fully online courses. These courses, on sustainable business, leadership, supply chains and communication, continue to meet the learning and development needs of thousands of individuals internationally.

Graduate study

Our Master’s level programmes are already designed to be completed on a part-time basis, with many elements to enable remote learning and collaborative engagement. Until at least the end of academic year 2020-2021, all workshops will be delivered in manner that allows for remote participation, potentially with the option for some in-person participation where this is practically possible. Our hope and expectation is that it will be possible to deliver courses starting from September 2021 with the usual in-person workshops; however the situation remains uncertain and there might be further ‘waves’ and/or international travel restrictions. We will continue to follow University and government guidance and to monitor and respond to the changing public health situation. Our aim is to achieve the learning outcomes and offer a rich experience, even if in-person participation is not possible for all/some students. During 2020, we have worked with participants and tutors to develop new and creative ways to build peer networks and deepen learning across digital platforms, and have now established a successful track record of high-quality delivery under pandemic-imposed restrictions:

Read a blog by a Course Director for our MSt in Sustainability Leadership where she shares her experience of delivering first-class graduate education in a Covid-19 world.

Find out how students from CISL’s Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE) Master’s worked entirely remotely with Jesus College to consider how it can manage its historic estate to meet ambitious sustainability targets.

Bespoke leadership and strategy programmes

Many of our corporate clients were already starting to move towards online delivery in order to optimise scale and access while reducing environment impact and have accelerated these plans in light of Covid-19 disruption. We are working with them to develop ambitious new online programmes – both self-paced and tutor-led – innovating and experimenting to find ever more effective ways to combine leading edge thinking, debate, reflection and collaboration to deliver business-relevant results. Many programmes that were due to be delivered in person are now being adapted for remote delivery, combining the creation of new video and briefings, live tutor-led sessions, reflective discussions, small group breakouts and group assignments.

Open executive programmes

We have taken a decision to postpone a small number of programmes that were planned for the coming months, including the Prince of Wales Business & Sustainability Programme. If possible, we will reschedule seminars for September and beyond. In the interim, we will create ways to connect participants and faculty, to convene debates and discussion and develop and share new thinking about the future of business.

Our recent series of webinars on leadership are available here, and a wider series of webinars on The Future We Want will be scheduled in the weeks ahead.

Our plans are to build on these strengths in order to continue to connect with participants and our network to expand thinking and inform action. Over the coming weeks, we will launch a new range of webinars on The Future We Want. To register your interest for these webinars, please click here.

For additional questions about our courses and the impacts of Covid-19, please look at the Frequently Asked Questions below.


Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate programmes

I am on a Graduate Programme and am due to be in a workshop in 2020 – will this still go ahead?

Until at least the end of 2020 all workshops will be delivered in manner that allows for remote participation, potentially with the option for some in-person participation where this is practically possible. We have contacted all students directly to let them know about our planned approach to delivery. CISL has extended its remote delivery capabilities to allow students to learn from anywhere in the world. Our workshops will include tutor-led learning and provide a social and interactive space for students to learn, collaborate and network. The tool used for remote delivery is Zoom, and should you have any technical questions please do contact a member of the relevant team (contact details below).

For more information on individual programmes, please .

I am applying/have applied to a Graduate Programme due to start in summer 2021, will there be any delays?

We do not anticipate any delays to future programmes. Our intention is to deliver workshops on the advertised dates, with some workshops in the first half of 2021 being delivered virtually to ensure they can be successfully delivered at those times. CISL is well equipped to deliver workshops remotely and we expect to commence delivery as planned with all workshops available remotely until it is safe to resume in-person delivery. We intend to revert to exclusively in-person workshops once the global public health situation has stabilised, taking account of guidance from the University and UK government.

The programmes will aim to deliver the same learning outcomes and offer a rich experience throughout the disruption and no changes are expected to completion dates.

More information on the available graduate programmes can be found here.


The Prince of Wales's Business & Sustainability Programme (BSP)

I am due to be attending BSP in Cambridge in April 2020. Is this be going ahead?

Unfortunately we have had to postpone the BSP in Cambridge until September 2020. All applicants, whether accepted or on the waiting list, will receive direct correspondence from the BSP team. The seminar scheduled for 8-11 November 2020 is expected to proceed as planned.

CISL will be running sessions on the implications of the current pandemic for ‘business-as-usual’ for future BSP delegates. Details of these sessions will be sent directly to accepted BSP delegates.

If you have any immediate questions please contact .

I am due to be attending the Business and Sustainability Programme or the Sustainability Practitioner Programme in South Africa, will there be any changes?

We have postponed the BSP in Cape Town until 13-16 September 2020. All applicants, whether accepted or on the waiting list, will receive direct correspondence from the BSP team.

If you are due to attend the Sustainability Practitioners Programmes in Intundla on 4-7 October 2020, this is still expected to run as scheduled although this is under constant review based on guidance from local and national groups. Any changes will be communicated directly with participants.

If you have any immediate questions please contact


Online programmes

I have signed up to an online programme, are these going ahead as planned?

CISL’s online programmes offer the opportunity for individuals and organisations, anywhere in the world, to take the lead in tackling critical global challenges. Delivered completely online, these programmes are tutor led and have space for networking and discussion by design. We have seen significant growth of our online programmes over the past year, as more professionals look to develop and work flexibly, whilst benefiting from the guidance of industry experts and leading faculty from the University of Cambridge. Our experience working on interactive online learning has helped to accelerate our ability to adapt to the new way of working in light of the current circumstances.

These programmes will continue to run with no changes. Details of the course topics and upcoming workshop dates are available here.

Contact us

Interested in finding out more about our executive education and graduate study? Get in touch to arrange a call with a Course Director.


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We have offices in Cambridge, Brussels and Cape Town, and delivery partners in Beijing, Melbourne and the UAE.