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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Group of Sustainable Built Environment Students in their formal robes

22 February 2024 – Terry Heath is a Consultant and Non-Executive Director, and a Master of Studies in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) student. Terry shares his experience of the programme and details what an average day looks like during one of his residential workshops in Cambridge, UK.

My day begins… with a 6am alarm. I wake up early and prepare for the day before triaging any important emails and having a morning chat with my family. Both of my children are studying at UCL, so we often have a group Facetime to argue about who has the most challenging study day!
I then wander over to the Wolfson College dining hall to have breakfast with friends from the course. Afterwards, we take a lovely stroll through Sheep’s Green, say good morning to the cows, and head to Hot Numbers for a morning coffee.

The workshop starts with… an overview of the day, which is useful for structuring my notes and starting to think through themes that I would like to explore with the speakers. With such a diverse and engaged cohort, it’s often difficult to get many questions answered, so I try to be focused on the most important areas for my research. The sessions are generally well structured and informative. They move quickly and cover a broad range of topics, so it’s important to stay focused, which isn’t always easy with such a packed week. It’s very rewarding though, and I’m often surprised by the variety of topics for a ‘themed’ workshop.

Between sessions we… take the opportunity to question the speakers (and one another) about the topics and relevant themes, not forgetting to grab another coffee at Hot Numbers. For lunch, we wander down to the Fitzwilliam to pick up some food.

After lunch we… change pace slightly and focus on group activities, research topics or meet with supervisors. Studio sessions are an opportunity to be creative, flex our interdisciplinary muscles, and have a little bit of fun whilst gaining some practical experience about the theme for the week.

Once sessions finish we… get together with the group for dinner and a drink in a local restaurant. During the week, many of us attend the Formal Hall, which is a great opportunity to feel connected to the college and university life. We also attend several evening lectures, which are specifically chosen to broaden horizons and challenge us to think differently. After a long and intense day of lectures and practical work, this is about all my mind has the capacity for!

After a day of learning… I feel, frankly, exhausted. There’s a lot to cover in seven days and trying to balance studying, work, homelife, and having some social time in Cambridge is a challenge. However, even though the pace is intense, it’s exactly what I need to soak up all the knowledge that’s needed. The themes are broad and I’m always happy to have learned so much when I leave the workshop.

I am inspired to… change my approach to my consulting practice. Having spent three decades creating interdisciplinary solutions, I now want to re-focus my work to entirely deliver sustainable environments. I’ve been excited by the ideas that I have – sometimes far too many to action – and the amazing people that I’ve met, both within the faculty and in the various study cohorts.

The Master’s and Postgraduate Certificate part-time courses focused on sustainability leadership in the built environment are delivered via a blend of remote online learning and residential workshops in Cambridge. The two-year Master’s includes six week-long residential workshops in Cambridge and the nine-month Postgraduate Certificate has two week-long residential workshops.

Applications for the 2024 intake close 8 May 2024. Find out more, download the brochure and apply here.

About the Author


Terry Heath is a Consultant and Non-Executive Director, and a Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE) student.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.


Zoe Kalus, Head of Media  

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