The ACU Commonwealth Summer School was instigated in 2011. It aims to provide a forum for high quality students from every corner of the Commonwealth to discuss multidisciplinary issues of global importance.

A key element of the School is its desire to mix local and regional students with their peers who may not have ever had the opportunity to leave their own regions. 

Students in the final year of their undergraduate degree who expect to move to postgraduate study, or those already studying for a postgraduate degree (full or part time) are eligible to apply to attend. Qualifying students from ACU member institutions will be eligible to apply for bursaries. 

The School is hosted in a different country each year. In its previous five years it has been held in Cameroon, Botswana, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Canada.

2017 – Bath Spa University (United Kingdom)

Bath Spa UniversityCreating greener narratives through the environmental arts and humanities

The environmental arts and humanities are an innovative area of interdisciplinary research that examines the relationship between human culture and the physical environment.

The Summer School will bring together outstanding students from throughout the Commonwealth for a week of interactive workshops, keynote lectures, group project work, and field trips. Participants will work on the creation and depiction of environmental narratives through history, art, music, heritage, literature, and tourism.

The 2017 Summer School will take place from 5-13 August 2017. Applications are now open and close on 15 February.

Find out more about the 2017 programme 

2016 – University of Rwanda

2016 Rwanda delegates at Fab LabThe Sustainable Development Goals: what role for universities?

In August 2016, the University of Rwanda hosted the sixth ACU Commonwealth Summer School. The theme, 'The Sustainable Development Goals: what role for universities?', encompassed sub-themes including equality and gender, sustainable cities, rural development and conservation and biodiversity.

During the week-long event, participants benefitted from lectures and seminars by experts in their field, group project work, site visits, social events and skills development sessions.

Find out more about the 2016 programme

2015  University of Waterloo, Western University & Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada)

Summer School 2015 delegatesBig data and the digital divide

The sheer magnitude of data that crosses the web today is almost incomprehensible, and the technologies currently available to manage this data are inadequate. This problem touches all fields of expertise from engineering to social sciences, humanities to medicine. It also results in new societal problems involving privacy, security, surveillance, and the 'digital divide'.

Three Canadian universities — each undertaking groundbreaking research on the theme of big data and the digital divide — came together to welcome students from all over the Commonwealth for a week of intense study, field trips, project work, networking and sight-seeing in an area known as Canada's 'technology triangle'. Students analysed whether the threats associated with big data and the digital divide are offset by the opportunities they give rise to.

Find out more about the 2015 programme


2014  University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Semenyih (Malaysia)

Global food security: can we feed a growing world? 

The world’s population is predicted to hit 9 billion by 2050, and the UN estimates that food production will have to increase by 70% to meet the growth in demand.

Issues pertaining to feeding the world’s ever expanding population was at the heart of the fourth annual ACU Commonwealth Summer School’s programme, designed to take a multidisciplinary look at one of the major issues of our time.

Students from all over the Commonwealth converged on Malaysia for a week of intense study, field trips, project work, networking and sight-seeing. 

Find out more about the 2014 programme


2013  Cumberland Lodge, Windsor (United Kingdom)

The world in 2113: what will it be like, how can we prepare?

World leaders face an array of challenges in steering the world into a universally and sustainably prosperous future. Economic, security, and environmental issues threaten our way of life.

As the ACU turns 100, the ACU Commonwealth Summer School asked its young scholars of today — and the leaders of tomorrow — how they envisaged the world being in a hundred years' time. 

What skills would society need in a hundred years' time? What would be the main innovations in the next century? Would religion enhance or restrict our lives in the next century? Is a hundred years too soon to expect gender equity? Would the world still even exist in 2113?

Find out more about the 2013 programme


2012  University of Botswana

Climate change and livelihoods in Africa

The importance of climate change to sub-Saharan Africa cannot be understated. Extreme weather conditions have become more common in environments that are vulnerable to weather variations. Traditional livelihoods of pastoralism and non-irrigated farming have suffered from intensified droughts and floods.

Though being amongst the regions most affected by climate change, Africa's share of global GHG emissions is only 3.7 percent of the world total.

Questions related to tackling climate change and its impact on the communities most prone to its effects were the focus of the DocLinks/Commonwealth Summer School.


2011  University of Buea (Cameroon)

The role of the Commonwealth and its impact on policy

The inaugural ACU Commonwealth Summer School provided a unique opportunity for students from throughout the Commonwealth to engage with each other, and a team of international academics, in an informal and stimulating atmosphere.

60 scholars met at the University of Buea in Cameroon to participate in workshops and seminars on the role of the Commonwealth and its impact on a range of major policy issues. There was also a session on how the Commonwealth can better engage with young people through scholarships, as well as field trips including a visit to a botanic garden.