Coronavirus: Cumbria delivers a resilience masterclass to more than 60 countries



Not only the ability to bounce back, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly and adapt to changing and challenging circumstances. 

University of Cumbria has been providing a fresh approach to this, supported by a network of respected national and international experts and academics, to help businesses, public services and others as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

More than 820 participants from 60 countries around the world have taken part in Resilience – A Journey of Becoming, the brainchild of University of Cumbria senior lecturer in engineering, Stephen Mullen. 

Building a strong, supportive community during the free nine-week series of online masterclasses, participants have included individuals such as United Nations and Cabinet Office public servants, global business and community leaders, Emergency Services personnel, and frontline Humanitarian Aid Workers. 

Exploring key themes such as charity responses to crisis, communication, security issues and the importance of peer support, masterclass presenters have included internationally renowned hostage and crisis negotiator Andrew Brown, who continues to deliver training on tactics at law enforcement agencies including the NYPD and FBI, and who is the Chief Security Officer for the Jesuit Refugee Service based in Rome and serving at the forefront of the refugee crisis. 

Andy Beeforth OBE, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, who has significant experience in charity response to emergencies, has also shared his knowledge and experience along with University of Cumbria academics including Colonel David Bates, a part-time lecture in paramedic practice within the university’s respected Institute of Health.  

David, who served with the Army Medical Services for 34 years, also works with the Army Reserves where he is responsible for shaping health stability and reconstruction thinking, and he is a Trustee on the Board of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART-UK), a small NGO that delivers aid and advocacy to unknown or unwanted communities globally. 

A virtual graduation celebrating students’ achievements with student reflections from Guatemala, UK and South Africa, also included an Act of Remembrance; a two-minute silence to remember those who have suffered losses during the coronavirus pandemic and those using their lives to fight it. 

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, the university’s first Chancellor and recently-retired Archbishop of York, also recorded a special message for students, stating: “Don’t go where there’s a path, go where there’s no path and leave a trail.” 

Daniel Marsden, an airport duty manager at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, says the masterclass series is already helping him as the airport adapts to the changing demands of the pandemic and the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

Usually welcoming 1.2 million travellers through its doors every year, the airport’s function has switched and is a key part of the UK cargo network until passenger flights to its 45 destinations in 23 countries can resume. 

Daniel said: “The masterclass series has given me a real focus to deal with the situations I’m now facing. Over the last few weeks in particular there have been times when we’ve been working towards resuming passenger operations only for it to not happen. 

“This can leave us disheartened and I’m part of a team that’s constantly having to adapt and change our plans and approach whilst I provide leadership and communications, conveying the right messages to colleagues and others. Communication and leadership – these are the skills that have been key for me to learn from this series.” 

Masterclass facilitator Stephen Mullen, a lecturer within the university’s Institute of Business, Industry and Leadership, said: “In the early days of the pandemic it was apparent that we would be travelling on this journey together and there would be key themes and issues that everyone would be looking for answers on. 

“Growing organically through our online network and thanks to the technology available today, people from across the world have taken part, actively contributing to the series. That’s been reflected in the engaging Q&As we’ve had at the end of each one of the nine sessions and the student reflections submitted as part of their CPD (continued professional development) considerations. 

“Thanks must go to the presenters and participants who have come together to make this series a success.” 

Recordings of every masterclass in the Resilience – A Journey of Becoming series remain available for anyone who wishes to find out more and can be accessed here



  1. Stephen Mullen, senior lecturer, University of Cumbria and masterclass series facilitator, Resilience – A Journey of Becoming. 

  1. Andrew Brown, international crisis negotiator – University of Cumbria’s Resilience – A Journey of Becoming masterclass presenter

  2. Daniel Marsden, an airport duty manager, Doncaster Sheffield Airport – University of Cumbria’s Resilience – A Journey of Becoming masterclass series graduate 

Masterclass series facilitator Stephen Mullen, presenter and international negotiation expert Andrew Brown and series graduate Daniel Marsden are available for interview.