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SAR Network Global Congress, Amsterdam, 9-10 April 2014

Thank you to all who attended the triennial Scholars at Risk Network Global Congress held on 9-10 April 2014 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, co-hosted by Scholars at Risk, the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF), University of Amsterdam (UvA), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA)

The summary report of the Congress is now available here. It includes brief summaries of the discussions, key recommendations, and references to the many ways your institution, researchers, and students benefit and can be a part of this important work, as well as links to videos, presentations, media, stories, and network membership information. We invite you to share it with colleagues at your institution and other institutions, inviting them to get involved. We invite you also to continue the discussions on SAR' Facebook and Twitter pages, using the hashtag #free2think.

SAR Network Congress 2014 from Scholars at Risk on Vimeo.



#Free2Think at SAR from Scholars at Risk on Vimeo.

Jonathan Fanton, SAR Board Chair, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Franklin D. Roosevelt Visiting Fellow and Interim Director at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, speaks about the importance of academic freedom in building healthy societies, our responsibility to protect at-risk scholars, and the SAR's Academic Freedom MONITOR. 

#Free2Think in Amsterdam from Scholars at Risk on Vimeo.

Frank van der Duyn Schouten, Rector Magnificus and member of the Executive Board of VU University Amsterdam since 2013, speaks with SAR about why VU University Amsterdam joined the SAR Network and about the responsibility academics have towards their at-risk colleagues.

#Free2Think in Tunis from Lauren Crain on Vimeo.

Habib Kazdaghli, dean of the faculty of letters, arts, and humanities at the University of Manouba in Tunisia, has become one of the symbols of the struggle for academic freedom and democracy in Tunisia and was awarded the Courage to Think Award at the 2014 SAR Network Global Congress in Amsterdam for his bravery and stalwartness in the face of aggression and intimidation. Dean Kazdaghli speaks to SAR about the the state of academic freedom in Tunisia and the personal risks he has faced because of his fight to protect Tunisian's right to be #free2think .

#Free2Think in Pakistan from Scholars at Risk on Vimeo.

Rafia Zakaria, a Director for Amnesty International USA and a journalist for Dawn, Pakistan's most widely circulated English-language newspaper, speaks about the shrinking space for free thought and open debate on Pakistani university campuses and the important role the SAR Academic Freedom MONITOR plays in highlighting and raising awareness of these threats.

#Free2Think in Iran from Scholars at Risk on Vimeo.

Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, speaks about academic freedom and the "brain drain" in Iran and highlights the international community's responsibility to protect the right for individuals to be #free2think.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

  12:00-13:00 Registration
  13:00 Welcome & Opening Remarks
Including Frank van der Duyn Schouten, Rector, VU Amsterdam, Maarten den Heyer, Board Member, UAF, and Jonathan Fanton, Board Chair, Scholars at Risk Network

SAR video presentation

"Freedom to think, responsibility to act"

Overview of the program by Robert Quinn, Executive Director, Scholars at Risk Network
  Keynote “Academic Responsibility in Global Higher Education”
By Craig Calhoun, Director of London School of Economics and Political Science
  With introductory remarks by Hans-Georg van Liempd, President of EAIE

  15:10 Coffee Break
  15:30 “Courage to Think Dialogues: Global Voices”
Conversations with scholars from around the world featuring a keynote dialogue with Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran; in conversation with Rik Torfs, Rector of KU Leuven; Habib Kazdaghli, Dean of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Manouba, Tunisia; Ielyzaveta Shchepetylnykova, Chair, Ukrainian Association of Student Self-Government; Kholoud Saber, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, Egypt; Melanie Adrian, Carleton University; Myint Oo, Myanmar General Practitioners' Society, and Alex Geert Castermans, Leiden University. 
  17:15 Reception & Dinner
  19:30-21:00 “Courage to Think” Celebration
An evening celebration with performances of Courage to Think Monologues, based on the stories of SAR-assisted scholars.  Remarks from Mardjan Seighali and Pieter Hilhorst.

Presentation of the 2014 SAR Courage to Think Award by Jonathan Fanton and Irving Epstein to Dean Habib Kazdaghli of Tunisia.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 

University of Amsterdam (UvA)

  9:00 Welcome & summary of workshop goals
Including Alexander Rinnooy Kan, University of Amsterdam and Robert Quinn, Executive Director, Scholars at Risk Network.

  9:15 Workshop A:  Protecting threatened scholars
Designed for prospective, new, and experienced SAR members, partner network members and affiliates, this workshop will explore opportunities and best practices for helping to protect at-risk scholars. Presenters will include SAR-assisted scholars from Iran and Iraq; host campus representatives including Karin Vliestra from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), SAR staff including Sinead O'Gorman and Lauren Crain, and partners.  Activities discussed will include hosting scholar-visitors, SAR Speaker Series events, SAR Scholars-in-Prison Project, SAR Student Advocacy Seminar and more.  SAR partners will share experience from their work, including  Adam Braver, Roger Williams University; Irving Epstein, Illinois Wesleyan University; Berend Jonker, UAF Iran Programme; Stephen Wordsworth, Council for Assisting Refugee Academics Zimbabwe Project; Sarah Willcox, Scholar Rescue Fund Syria Project, Kari Anette Lindemann, Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund, and Elisabeth Dyvik, International Cities of Refuge Network’s (ICORN) work for threatened writers.

Workshop B:  Preventing attacks on higher education communities
This workshop offers information and discussion about how to participate in research and advocacy activities of SAR and its partners, including especially the SAR Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and the higher education work of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). It is designed for prospective, new and experienced SAR members, affiliates and partner network members, including especially individual faculty and students. Presenters will include Diya Nijhowne, Director of GCPEA, Robert Quinn, Executive Direct, Scholars at Risk and participating monitor-researchers from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.
  11:00 Coffee Break
  11:30 Workshops A & B continued
  13:00 Lunch

Workshop C:  Promoting academic freedom
“Statements of values in international higher education partnerships”
A plenary workshop discussing SAR’s proposal that a statement or MOU on university values should be regularly incorporated into international higher education partnerships, with responses from leaders in the field, including Jonathan Fanton; Sijbolt Noorda, President, Magna Charta Observatory; Olusola Oyewole, President of the Association of African Universities; Sultan Abu-Orabi, General Secretary of the Association of Arab Universities; and Ambassador Lionel Veer, human rights ambassador for the Government of the Netherlands.

To read about follow-up from this workshop discussion, please see EAIE's blog post:

  16:15 2014 SAR Network Meeting*
*Open to SAR members, affiliates and invited guests to share updates, ask questions and help shape SAR’s strategy for the coming years.

Including Sinead O’Gorman, European Director, Scholars at Risk; Ragnhild Øien Guldvog, Chair SAR-Norway Section; Ruth Taillon, Secretary, Universities Ireland; Kris Dejonckheere, Secretary General, UNICA; Stephen Wordsworth, Executive Director, Council for Assisting Refugee Academics; Berend Jonker, Policy Officer, International Affairs, UAF; and more.

  17:45-19:00 Closing Reception

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