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Scholars In Prison

Student Advocacy Seminar


Monitoring Attacks

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Academic Freedom MONITOR

The SAR Academic Freedom MONITOR focuses on developing greater understanding of the volume and nature of attacks on higher education communities in order to develop more effective protection responses.  The MONITOR aims to identify, assess and track incidents involving one or more of 6 defined types of conduct which may constitute violations of academic freedom and/or the human rights of members of higher education SAR Academic Freedom MONITOR hompage imagecommunities:  

  •  Killings/violence/disappearances
  • Wrongful imprisonment/detention
  • Wrongful prosecution 
  • Restrictions on travel or movement 
  • Retaliatory discharge/loss of position/expulsion from study
  • Other significant events

The objectives of the MONITOR are:  (1) to capture most incidents involving the 6 defined types of violations; (2) to deploy a reporting system to verify and distribute captured information in a fashion most likely to produce positive results; and (3) together with project researchers and their teams, to achieve levels of effectiveness and efficiency that will allow for expansion to fully global coverage at a reasonable expense.  

Scholars at Risk coordinates the MONITOR with a network of higher education professionals and advocates serving as monitors for specific countries or regions, often serving as lead researchers supervising teams of student researchers.  Researchers identify incidents of attacks on higher education systems, institutions or personnel which fall into the 6 types and record the details of each incident in a template provided, analyzing each incident as indicated and attaching corroborating primary and secondary source material when possible.   SAR processes, verifies and consolidates reports of incidents for distribution and mobilization of protective responses. 

Free to Think

In June 2015, Scholars at Risk released Free to Think, a report of the Academic Freedom Monitoring Project. The culmination of four years of monitoring and analysis by SAR staff and researchers around the world, the report analyzes 333 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries from January 2011 to May 2015, demonstrating the pressing need to raise awareness and document attacks on higher education:

  • There is a crisis of attacks on higher education communities around the world.
  • Attacks on universities, scholars and students are early warning signs of political, social and cultural insecurity.
  • Universities and scholars are critical parts of national infrastructure that is essential to rebuilding conflict torn states.

The report calls on all stakeholders, including the international community, states, the higher education sector, civil society and the public at large to undertake concrete actions to increase protection for higher education communities, including documenting and investigating attacks, and holding perpetrators accountable.

Download the report and share it with your networks over social media using the hashtag #Free2Think.

Get involved

Scholars at Risk invites academics, researchers and research centers interested in participating in the monitoring project, either in collection and verification of monitoring data or in post-monitoring advocacy to contact us at  SAR especially invites interest in research partnerships between researchers and centers in the global north with counterparts in the global south.

For more information visit the project website at

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