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SAR Network 2014 Global Congress, 9-10 April 2014

Scholars at Risk’s triennial Global Congress was held in Amsterdam on April 9-10. The theme was "Freedom to Think, Responsibility to Act,” recognizing the important role that scholars and the higher education sector generally play in society, while at the same time challenging members of the sector to consider whether access to higher education and the enjoyment of academic freedom carry with them responsibilities. If yes, what are they and how are they to be met? The two-day Global Congress explored these issues through an exciting schedule of panel and roundtable discussions, workshops, and a performance of Courage to Think Monologues (featuring the stories of threatened scholars assisted by our network).

The Congress also included the 2014 SAR Network meeting open to SAR members, affiliates and invited guests with the goal of reviewing SAR’s mission, governance and Network strategy. Registration, hotel information, and program are available at You can follow the planning discussions on SAR’s Facebook or Twitter pages.

SAR calls for letters on behalf of Chinese scholar, Ilham Tohti

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned over reports that Ilham Tohti, an imprisoned public intellectual and economics professor from China, has been denied access to his lawyer, that his wife can no longer access his bank account, that his family is being held under constant surveillance, and that his children are unduly suffering.  SAR asks for letters, faxes and emails respectfully urging the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation, to explain publicly the circumstances of Professor Tohti’s arrest and, pending his immediate release, to ensure that his case proceeds in a manner consistent with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial and detention, in accordance with China's obligations under international law.  Additionally, in light of recent reports, SAR asks for support in urging authorities to lift restrictions on Prof. Tohti’s wife and children, and release his home and family from current police presence. View SAR's most recent letter and a template for your letter of appeal on our Scholars in Prison page.

SAR honored with Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award

Scholars at Risk is honored to receive Tufts University’s Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award. The award is given in commemoration of former university chancellor and president Dr. Jean Mayer, whose dictum was: “Scholarship, research and teaching must be dedicated to solving the most pressing problems facing the world.” The inscription on the award reads: “For your extraordinary embrace of intellectuals fleeing persecution and violence and for your vigorous defense of the principles of unencumbered inquiry and academic freedom.” SAR is grateful to all our members and partners who make this important work possible.

The award was presented to SAR on February 28th at Tufts University’s annual Institute for Global Leadership symposium, which focused on “The Future of the Middle East and North Africa”, and featured international practitioners, activists, academics, public intellectuals, and journalists, including SAR scholars from Bahrain and Syria.

University Values e-bulletin, December 2013

University Values header

Scholars at Risk is pleased to announce the release of the December 2013 edition of UNIVERSITY VALUES, an electronic bulletin featuring articles, essays and announcements promoting discussion and understanding of university values - including access, accountability/ transparency, academic freedom/quality, autonomy/good governance, and social responsibility. SAR coordinates the production and circulation of the bulletin, in cooperation with an international network of contributing organizations and individuals. The views presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent SAR or its respective members.  The December edition and prior editions are available here.

University and the Nation Report Cover, Nov 2013 Tunisia's NCA approves Article 32 protecting academic freedoms in new constitution

On January 6th Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly adopted a constitutional provision guaranteeing protection of academic freedoms. Article 32 of the new constitution states that "academic freedoms and freedom of scientific research shall be guaranteed" and requires that "[t]he state shall seek to provide the necessary means to develop scientific and technological research."  The measure passed by a vote of 171 for, 6 against, and 6 abstentions. The NCA is scheduled to adopt the full constitution by January 14. Adoption requires two-thirds of the assembly's 217 members; otherwise it will have to be put to a public referendum.

With the new Article 32, Tunisia joins at least 20 other states that include explicit protection for academic freedom or academic liberty in their constitutions. Constitutions in another 99 states include language directly guaranteeing elements of academic freedom (including, for example, institutional autonomy), while 76 states indirectly guarantee academic freedom via related rights, including the freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and right to education. (Full list of countries here.)

Scholars at Risk supports the inclusion of language explicitly protecting academic freedom and institutional autonomy in national constitutions, basic laws and national higher education statutes. Explicit protection helps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, freeing them to fulfill their vital educational, social, cultural, economic and political functions, to the benefit of society.

Scholars at Risk has been concerned about pressures on higher education communities in Tunisia and throughout the Arab Spring countries, including co-organizing an international conference in Tunis together with Tunisian partners and New York University's Center for Dialogues. The report of the conference, The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond, was released on November 18th. Details of the event are available
on SAR's Events page.

New Report:  Institutional Autonomy and the Protection
of Higher Education from Attack
Autonomy & Security report cover image

Scholars at Risk is pleased to share the publication of a new report, "Institutional Autonomy and the Protection of Higher Education from Attack."  The report examines the need for increased efforts to protect higher education from violent and coercive attacks by simultaneously increasing security and autonomy.  The report is issued by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA).  Scholars at Risk is a member of the coalition's Higher Education Working Group and played a leading role in developing the report.


SAR News Headlines SAR Events

01/28/2014, Providing a safe haven for scholars at risk Montreal is half a world away from the rural community of Bure, Ethiopia, where Semahagn Abebe was raised by his grandmother. One of eleven children, he soon moved to the capital city, Addis Ababa, to pursue higher education and launch his career.
more »

10/25/2013, Prof Suspended Over Tweet Won't Return in 2013 The chancellor of the University of Kansas announced Thursday that a journalism professor suspended over a tweet that angrily targeted the National Rifle Association after the Navy Yard shootings will not return to his classroom in 2013.
more »

10/25/2013, Confederate flag raises issues, ire at a N.Y. college ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A University of Rochester student says college officials violated his right to free expression by forcing him to take down a Confederate flag he had put in the window of his room on campus.
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02/21/2013, The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond Scholars at Risk and the NYU Center for Dialogues announce a conference, The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond, at University of Manouba in Tunis, Tunisia on...
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05/23/2011, Launch of Scholars at Risk, Norway Section Scholars at Risk, Norway Section will be launched at Oslo University College (HiO). The Norwegian Section will represent Norway in the wider international Scholars at Risk Network and organize and coordinate...
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04/27/2011, Swimming with Sharks: How Big Pharma Threatens Academic Freedom The University of Groningen, member of the SAR-UAF network in the Netherlands, hosts “Swimming with Sharks: How Big Pharma Threatens Academic Freedom,” from 8 to 10 p.m. on April 27 at the Academiegebouw,...
more »

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