Courage to Think: A video intro to Scholars at Risk. Watch>
A: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of institutions and individuals working to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide.
A: SAR offers direct assistance to academics facing threats to their lives. SAR acts as a matchmaker between scholars and member institutions offering temporary positions to scholars. Throughout a scholar‘s visit, SAR offers advice and assistance to the scholar and the host. To assist scholars who cannot leave their home countries, SAR facilitates academic freedom workshops, measures conditions across the world through the SAR Academic Freedom Survey, and supports scholarship and education that promotes the understanding of the “rights-based” university/higher education sector.
A: SAR‘s primary activities involve providing assistance to threatened scholars and host campuses. SAR also engages in education and advocacy aimed at promoting academic freedom and defending threatened scholars and universities worldwide. Specific activity areas include:
Hosting Threatened Scholars: SAR works to match scholars facing threats in their home country with universities and colleges in safe locations anywhere in the world.
Resources for Threatened/Displaced Scholars: SAR refers scholars under threat or those forced out of their country to partner institutions with expertise in legal issues, recovery, career services, human rights, etc.
Speaker Series: SAR organizes and advertises speaking events at Network member institutions featuring SAR scholars and topics relating to attacks on academic freedom and universities.
Scholars in Prison: SAR undertakes activities on behalf of scholars still under threat in their home country—such as those suffering prosecution on improper or false charges or wrongfully imprisoned—as well as against widespread threats to an entire faculty, university or system.
Research: SAR is developing a number of research projects aimed at promoting understanding of and respect for academic freedom and related values.
Academic Freedom Workshops: With partners at the Network for Education and Academic Rights, SAR facilitates international workshops intended to build bridges between the higher education and human rights communities, with the goal of developing joint approaches to protecting scholars and universities.
A: The network strives to be open and transparent, with input welcomed and without hidden commitments.The network aims to be broad-based and should include a range of institutions to help the greatest number of academics and to most widely promote academic freedom.The network strives to remain flexible to accommodate varying capacities and levels of involvement, and to respect limits of members‘ time and financial resources. And the network strives to provide clear commitments and allows each institution to retain final decision-making authority over when and how to participate.
A: Each situation is different, but SAR has received requests for assistance from individual scholars facing harassment, surveillance, denial of accesses or permissions, confiscation of notes and computers files, professional or personal slander or defamation, physical or sexual intimidation, arbitrary dismissal, internal exile, external exile, arrest on false charges, detention without trial, trial and imprisonment, torture, disappearance, and extra-judicial killing.
SAR has also received requests for assistance from university communities facing ideological pressure and censorship, imposition of approved national ideology, book burning and ideological revisionism, closing of schools and universities, suppression of strikes/protests, restrictions on travel, restrictions on information exchange, discriminatory restrictions on academic resources.
A: SAR has received nearly 2000 requests for assistance from over 100 countries over the past eight years. In total, SAR has assisted over 400 scholars directly, including hosting temporary visits. Annually, SAR member institutions assist 40-50 scholars directly and SAR provides advice, referrals, counseling and other services to 75-100 scholars each year. The largest percentage of scholars requesting assistance comes from Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Northern Africa and the Middle East and South Asia.
A: Scholars at Risk has examined hundreds of cases of scholars alleging a variety of violations of academic freedom and human rights. There are three general categories for these cases.
The first category includes scholars experiencing threats because the content of their work, research or teachings is perceived as threatening by authorities or other groups.
The second group of scholars includes those targeted because of their academic status. Because of their education, frequent travel and professional standing, scholars are often prominent members of their community. This is especially true where a scholar is a member of a political, ethnic or religious minority, for female scholars and for scholars in countries where opportunities for advanced education are limited. In these circumstances, an attack on an individual scholar may be a highly visible, highly efficient means for a repressive agent to intimidate and silence an entire community of people.
The third category of cases includes scholars experiencing threats because of exercise of their fundamental rights. Academic freedom involves the right of scholars to carry out research and to disseminate and publish the results thereof, to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, to be free from institutional censorship, and to participate in professional or representative academic bodies. When authorities excessively restrict research, travel and other means of collaboration, scholars may be unable to advance their work and as a result may call for greater openness and transparency, an action that can strengthen an authority‘s resolve to restrict scholarship.
A: Universities and colleges in any country are encouraged to contact the SAR office to inquire about joining the network.Scholars at Risk welcomes partnerships with academic associations and organizations around the world interested in academic freedom, freedom of inquiry, freedom of expression and related values.Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to register as a SAR mentor, volunteer at the SAR office and help organize events on campus.To learn more about ways you can help, please explore the website or contact the SAR office at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1-212-998-2179.
A: SAR welcomes media and press inquiries. If you would like further information or to arrange an interview please contact the SAR network office at email@example.com or +1-212-998-2179.