Scholars at Risk's work is rooted in the principle of academic freedom--the freedom to pursue scholarship and research without discrimination, censorship, intimidation, or violence. Scholars at Risk aims to bring scholars facing severe human rights abuses in their home region to positions at universities, colleges and research centers in any safe country.This is not a new idea. Scholars at Risk's work honors the memory of threatened scholars of prior generations, as well as the many individuals and institutions who helped them: from the flight of 15th century Greek scholars after the conquest of Constantinople, to the more than 600 scholars and students fleeing Russia in the early 20th century, to the unprecedented attacks on scholars in the World War II era, when racist and nationalist policies of European dictatorships--Nazi Germany principally but Italy, Spain, and Russia as well--drove thousands of scholars and intellectuals into exile.
Scholars at Risk honors those who sacrificed in the past by working to defend the scholars and universities still facing grave threats today.
Scholars at Risk began in the Human Rights Program of the University of Chicago in 1999. The Network launched with a major international conference at the university in June 2000. Since then, scores of universities have joined the Network and helped to defend hundreds of scholars around the world.
In 2001, Scholars at Risk joined with other international education and human rights organizations to launch the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR). NEAR is a clearing house of information on academic freedom and education rights and coordinator of joint action on reports of academic rights violations. The NEAR offices are hosted by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) in London.
In 2002, SAR partnered with the Institute of International Education which was then establishing IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund. The Fund provides vital financial support to scholars facing grave threats so that they may escape dangerous conditions and continue their academic work in safety. In establishing an endowed rescue fund, IIE formalized 85 years of commitment to helping intellectuals and seeks to ensure that resources will always be there when scholars are most vulnerable and in urgent need. Scholars at Risk is delighted to partner with IIE in helping many scholars, and since the Fund's founding many SAR members universities have hosted scholars supported in part by fellowships from the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund.
In 2003, the network headquarters relocated from the University of Chicago to the Greenwich Village campus of New York University, where it now resides within the Provost's Office.
In 2005, SAR together with CARA helped to organize the CARA/SAR UK Universities Network, a partner network of more than 20 universities in the United Kingdom working with CARA and SAR to help refugee scholars in the UK as well as threatened scholars still in their home country. The UK Network is a model for future partner networks, involving more universities and more scholars in SAR's work.
In 2006-08, SAR developed partner networks throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with the hope of building a truly global constituency pledged to promote academic freedom and defend threatened scholars and universities everywhere.