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Scholars at Risk and its partner networks around the world organize events to promote academic freedom and to increase respect for university values. Scholars at Risk members, staff and scholars assisted by the network frequently participate in conferences and other events. Upcoming and featured events are listed below. For a complete list of past events please visit the Scholars at Risk event archive. To learn more about inviting a SAR scholar to speak, please visit our Speaker Series page.

Launch of SAR-Ireland section coordinating committee

Universities Ireland, in partnership with Scholars at Risk, launched the SAR-Ireland section coordinating committee at Trinity College Dublin on December 10, 2014. Speakers included Dr. Michael Murphy, President, Universities Ireland, Ruth Taillon, Secretary, Universities Ireland, Shadi Sadr, Iranian femininst and human rights defender, Dr. Roja Fazaeli, Lecturer in Islamic Civilisations, Trinity College Dublin, Claire Mary Dowling, a student at Trinity College Dublin and Sinead O’Gorman, European Director at SAR. 

SAR Speaker Series, Lund University, December 5, 2014

Lund University celebrated the launch of the Scholars at Risk program on campus with a SAR Speaker Series event on Friday December 5, 2014. Speakers included, from left to right, Pär Svensson, SAR Primary Representative at Lund University, Marit Egner, SAR Primary representative at University of Oslo, Dr. Shirin Zubair from Pakistan, Sinead O’Gorman, SAR European Director, and Margareta Nordstrand, Head of External Relations at Lund University.


SAR Speaker Series, University of Gothenburg, December 4, 2014

On December 4, as part of the SAR Speaker Series in Sweden, the University of Gothenburg hosted a meeting about Scholars at Risk for faculty, administrators and students. Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Helena Lindholm Schulz hosted the meeting. Professor Johan Öberg from the Faculty Office for Fine and Applied Arts gave a talk on “The importance of freedom of speech, academic thinking and expressions of art”. Sinead O’Gorman and Marit Egner presented Scholars at Risk’s global work and the activities of the SAR-Norway section, while Dr. Shirin Zubair presented on challenges to academic freedom in Pakistan. The University of Gothenburg is leading national efforts to engage more Swedish higher education institutions in activities to protect persecuted scholars and promote academic freedom.


SAR Speaker Series, Malmö University, December 3, 2014
The 2014 SAR Speaker Series in Sweden was launched with events at Malmö University on December 3. Pro-Vice-Chancellor Hans Lindquist and Ingrid Dackert, Dean, Faculty of Culture and Society hosted the meetings, with presentations from Per Bergström from the City of Malmö about the work of the ICORN network, a talk by Dr. Shirin Zubair on gender, education, academic freedom in Pakistan, and a presentation by Marit Egner on the activities of the Scholars at Risk Norway section. For press coverage, please see:

Academic Freedom in Central Asia: The Case of Alexander Sodiqov

On July 22, 2014 Scholars at Risk hosted a panel discussion at New York University on the topic "Academic Freedom in Central Asia: The Case of Alexander Sodiqov." The discussion panel addressed the recent arrest of Alexander Sodiqov, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, who was taken into custody while conducting research on conflict resolution in Tajikistan. Although Alexander Sodiqov has been released on bail, he remains under investigation and is prohibited from leaving the country.

The panelists included Edward Schatz, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto; Alexander Cooley, Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College; Anne Nelson, Lecturer at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and former director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; John Heathershaw, Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter; and Rob Quinn, SAR's Executive Director. Together, the panelists discussed the developments in Alexander's case, and the serious concerns this incident raises on the state of academic freedom in Central Asia. Speaking from a multitude of different perspectives and extensive personal experience, each panelist emphasized the need to protect academic research from political pressure and to promote higher education values worldwide.

 2014 Scholars at Risk Network Global Congress, Amsterdam

 The triennial Scholars at Risk Network Global Congress was held on 9-10 April 2014 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It was 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). 

University in Exile 80th Anniversary

On January 30, 2014 Scholars at Risk Board Chair Jonathan Fanton joined George Rupp, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and former President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee; and Aryeh Neier, President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations for a panel discussion in honor of the 80th anniversary of the University in Exile. The event, organized by The New School for Social Research and the Center for Public Scholarship, celebrated the 80th anniversary of  the University in Exile, created by The New School’s first president, Alvin Johnson, as a haven for scholars who faced threats in Germany in 1933 following the rise of the Nazi Party.

The event also featured remarks by US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Ambassador Power's remarks, titled, "Protecting Scholars and the Right to Free Inquiry," highlighted the work done by the Scholars at Risk Network and the Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund .

"Freedom to Think, Responsibility to Act: The Human Rights Responsibilities of Students, Faculty and Higher Education Institutions" - Augustana College Winter Symposium

n January 21, 2014 Scholars at Risk Executive Director Robert Quinn spoke at Augustana College's Winter Symposium. In his remarks he calls upon faculty, students, and higher education institutions to embrace their responsibility to act in protecting and defending the rights of fellow members of the higher education community. The Winter Symposium,  organized in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, focused on social justice issues;  featured speakers also included, Chad Pregracke, president and founder of Living Lands and Water, and Dwight Ford, executive director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Rock Island.


Iran: Silenced, Expelled and Imprisoned 

On November 13, 2013 Scholars at Risk, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran co-sponsored an event organized by Amnesty International and The New School's Center for Public Scholarship called, "Iran: Silenced, Expelled and Imprisoned."

The discussion addressed ongoing imprisonment and prosecution of students and scholars in Iran. The panelists included Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, an Iranian women's rights activist and member of the Institute for Women's Leadership at Rutgers University, Mehdi Arabshahi, exiled Iranian student activist, Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and Hadi Kahalzadeh, Visiting Scholar of Political Science at Valdosta State University. They explored the problem of persecution of students and scholars in Iran and the role of the new Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani in promoting and protecting academic freedom. Speaking from multiple perspectives and deep personal experience, the panelists reaffirmed the need for reform and hope for a brighter future for the academic community under the new administration in Iran.

The 'Arab Spring': Does Academic Freedom Really Matter?

On November 18, 2013 Scholars at Risk and the Center for Dialogues hosted a panel discussion at New York University on the topic "The 'Arab Spring': Does Academic Freedom Really Matter?" The occasion was also used to release the report "The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond," which discusses the findings and recommendations of the conference under the same name which took place in Tunisia in February 2013. The report is available here.

The panelists were Habib Kazdaghli, Dean of the University of Manouba, Serge Telle, French Ambassador, and Robert Quinn, SAR's Executive Director. They explored the role of academic freedom in the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and its future role in each country. Speaking from multiple perspectives and deep personal experience each panelist reaffirmed the vital importance of safe university space and freedom to think in social and political progress. 

Ghent University Shares the Courageous Story of a SAR Scholar

Ghent University, a member of the Scholars at Risk- UAF network in Belgium, recently hosted a performance of a Forbidden Science Monologue inspired by the true story of Prof. Felix Kaputu, a SAR scholar hosted by the university since January.  Prof. Kaputu is a professor of comparative literature and an expert in the fields of art education, writing, literary and political criticism, and ancient religious studies. For his own safety, Prof. Kaputu had to flee the Democratic Republic of Congo, but remains active in his scholarship thanks to his current placement at Ghent. The Monologue was performed by Raymi Sambo and directed by John Leerdam. A lively panel discussion followed, exploring how academic institutions interact with colleagues in countries where human rights are at stake. The event was part of a series of monologues presented in cities across the Netherlands by SAR's Dutch partner, the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF). Additional pictures of the event are available on Ghent University's website. For more information on the Forbidden Science Monologues, please visit  UAF's webpage for the series.

Scholars at Risk - Canada Section Member Western University Welcomes First Scholar at Risk

On January 22, 2013, Western University, Canada, hosted a reception celebrating the university's first Scholar at Risk, Professor Anna Dolidze, who joined Western Law in July 2012 to teach and research international law. Western University President Amit Chakma spoke at the event on the importance of protecting academic freedom: “Western has an opportunity and a responsibility to play a leadership role in helping to protect academic freedom, wherever it may happen to fall under threat." Western is a founding member of the Scholars at Risk - Canada Section, which was launched in June 2012 and now consists of eight member institutions. For more information, please see this press release about Western's involvement with SAR and a video of the January 22nd event.

University of Oslo's 2012 Human Rights Award

Scholars at Risk is honored to announce that the University of Oslo awarded the 2012 Human Rights Award -- Lisl and Leo Eitinger Prize to SAR Executive Director Robert Quinn and Scholars at Risk on November 19, 2012.  As part of the ceremony, Mr. Quinn participated in the annual Eitinger Interview with Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The following day, Mr. Quinn delivered the Torkel Opsahl Memorial Lecture on the theme of “Bringing Claims for Academic Freedom Violations under Human Rights Law,” participated in a discussion with Frank LaRue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion, and presented on SAR's Academic Freedom Monitoring Project at the University of Oslo (please see a video of this presentation). Members of the Norwegian and international higher education and human rights communities attended, including representatives and scholars from the Scholars at Risk – Norway Section. Visit University of Oslo's website for a history of the prize and a list of previous winners.

Building a Scholars at Risk - Sweden Section

On November 14, 2012, University of Gothenburg and the Scholars at Risk Network held a meeting for Swedish higher education institutions on establishing a Swedish Section of Scholars at Risk. The section would represent Sweden in the wider Scholars at Risk network and will organize and coordinate SAR activities in Sweden.  The program included a discussion with SAR Deputy Executive Director, Sinead O’Gorman and an ICORN guest writer and SAR scholar from Ethiopia currently living in Stockholm; and a presentation by Marit Egner, Senior Adviser in the Department of Research Administration at the University of Oslo on the  Scholars at Risk - Norway Section’s experiences. For more information, please find an article about the event on Gothenburg’s website or see the meeting report from the event

University & the Nation:  Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia & Beyond

Scholars at Risk and the NYU Center for Dialogues held a conference, The University and the Nation: Safeguarding Higher Education in Tunisia and Beyond, at University of Manouba in Tunis, Tunisia on February 21-22, 2013. The conference was organized with the aim of fostering a dialogue about the role of higher education institutions in democratic societies, and to highlight the need for strong protections for core higher education values –including academic freedom, institutional autonomy and social responsibility – in the newly emerging order in Tunisia and beyond. The conference garnered significant attention in Tunis, and was covered by local media outlets, including Tunisia Live. The conference represents the third phase of a project which started with Tunisian scholars visiting New York in April 2012. In June 2012, Scholars at Risk visited Tunisia for meetings with, among others, the President of the Republic, the President of the National Constituent Assembly, the Minister of Higher Education and university leaders. This third phase opened the discussion to the whole higher education sector and the public, and is helping to set an agenda for future research and sharing of experiences between higher education leaders in the Arab World and the West on commonly arising challenges to core values.  More information: Program and Opening remarks: Jonathan Fanton, SAR Board Chair.; Conference Report.

UNICA-Scholars at Risk Seminar on Academic Freedom

On March 22 and 23, 2013, Scholars at Risk and its partner network UNICA (Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe) hosted a seminar on academic freedom at the Freie Universitat Berlin. The 34 participants included representatives from UNICA member universities, SAR partner organizations and German higher education institutions interested in getting involved in SAR activities. The participants agreed that concern about academic freedom violations was not enough. Concrete actions should be undertaken to protect academic freedom, to prevent future threats, and to offer greater and longer-term support to scholars at risk. Please see here for the conclusions of the seminar and further information about the event.

Courage to Think: Intellectual Freedom in Tunisia and the Arab Spring

In order to raise awareness of the importance of defending intellectual freedom and freedom of expression in Tunisia, SAR and the NYU Center for Dialogues invited four Tunisian professors to New York for a series of working meetings and a public event.  The event, held on April 9th, entitled "Courage to Think: Intellectual Freedom in Tunisia and the Arab Spring" and co-sponsored by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at the NYU School of Law and Human Rights Watch consisted of an open discussion of the threat that censorship poses to Tunisian communities, specifically analyzing the nature and origin of the spreading violence that has been increasing over the past year.


The Forbidden Science Monologues

From March 22 through April 3, 2012, a series of monologues were presented in cities across the Netherlands by SAR's Dutch partner, the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF). The series, titled "The Forbidden Science Monologues", was based on true stories of at-risk scholars and academics from West Africa, Iraq, Iran and Colombia. For more information please visit UAF's webpage for the event.


Celebration of SAR's 10th Anniversary

On October 3-4, 2011, Scholars at Risk marked our 10th anniversary by celebrating the extraordinary people and institutions that have done so much to help so many endangered scholars worldwide. The conference and celebration--including a series of dialogues with provocative minds--were held at New York University.  Conference highlights, video and summary program information are available here.


Launch of the Scholars at Risk-Norway Section

The Scholars at Risk Norway Section was launched on May 23, 2011 at Oslo University College (HiO). The Norwegian Section represents Norway in the wider international Scholars at Risk Network and organizes and coordinates Scholars at Risk activities in Norway. You can read more about the launch here.



Engaging Hearts and Minds: Justice and Global Citizenship in Action

March 8, 2011 – In March, SAR member university Centennial College, Canada hosted a conference entitled “Engaging Hearts and Minds: Justice and Global Citizenship in Action”. Scholars at Risk Senior Program officer Clare Robinson, together with SAR scholar Clement Jumbe and SAR university representative for Centennial College Dr. Eva Aboagye presented a panel called “Scholars at Risk: Partnering with Colleges to Defend Threatened Scholars”. Together they discussed the plight of scholars worldwide who are attacked because of their words, their ideas and their place in society, as well as provided an introduction to the work of Scholars at Risk and its member colleges and universities.

Human Rights and Academic Freedom at Cambridge University

February 11, 2011- The Centre of Governance and Human Rights  at Cambridge University, together with SAR’s UK partner, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics , and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities , co-hosted a seminar exploring the issues of human rights and academic freedom from a variety of perspectives. Speakers included refugee academics Mrs. Latefa Guemar and Mr. Admore Tshum, British scholar Dr. Terence Karran, and Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge City Mr. Julian Huppert. Focusing on how infringement on academic freedom affects all scholars, the seminar aimed to highlight positive steps the international academic community can take to support colleagues in need, increasing awareness of the difficulties faced by academics around the world and the effect this has on the pursuit of knowledge.



On Behalf of Scholars Who Have Been Imprisoned

December 16, 2010 – Scholars at Risk, together with member university Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam and the University Assistance Fund organized a campus event titled “VU connected” on behalf of scholars who have been imprisoned because of their work or ideas. A VU professor from Iran presented a short film, and students and faculty wrote letters and cards expressing support for imprisoned scholars and their families. Weeks later, the daughter of an imprisoned academic wrote back saying, “We received your cards [on behalf of our father]. It was so touching.  We don't know what to say; there are no words to express our gratitude. Thank you so much.” 100 people were present at the event and over 80 cards were signed and sent to scholars and their families.




The Power of Ideas, The Future of Iran

October 12, 2010 –University of Amsterdam, a Scholars at Risk member, and the University Assistance Fund, SAR’s partner organization in the Netherlands, held an event entitled “The Power of Ideas, The Future of Iran” featuring distinguished Iranian intellectuals. Human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, lecturer Behnam Taebi, women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, and Professor Sohrab Razzaghi discussed how the power of ideas is shaping the future of Iran. The panel also explored the responsibility of intellectual communities worldwide to stand together in solidarity with their colleagues to defend intellectual space. The discussion was moderated by Paul Aarts, lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam. The panel covered themes including the current conditions in Iran for human rights activist, lawyers and other intellectuals, the threats they are facing, the situation regarding the position of women, women’s rights and the rights of women scholars, as well as shared ideas on what Iran’s future will look like in the coming years.


Refugee Contributions to British Life

May 12, 2010 - Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, delivered  a lecture entitled Enriching the Arguments: the Refugee Contribution to British Life at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London. The event was jointly sponsored by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) and University College London (UCL), and was attended by prestigious figures from academia, religious groups, politics and the NGO and legal sectors, as well as diplomats and commentators. The Archbishop discussed the practical contributions that refugee academics have made to British life, and the importance of intellectual freedom and critical reasoning in modern-day society. The UCL UK University Network representative, Professor Michael Worton, also stressed the need for universities to be places of welcome for refugee scholars, quoting Timothy Redcliffe by stating that "universities should be places where we learn to talk to strangers."

Herman Winick Accepts Andrei Sakharov Prize

March 4, 2010 – Herman Winick, SAR Scholar-Advocate and Professor emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the Applied Physics Department of Stanford University, accepted the 2010 Andrei Sakharov Prize at the meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) last week in Washington D.C. Also accepting the award were Joseph Birman of the City College of New York and the City University of New York, and Morris (Moishe) Pripstein of the National Science Foundation. The Andrei Sakharov Prize is an honor awarded every two years by the APS in recognition of scientists who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and achievements in upholding human rights. Winick began focusing on human rights activities in the 1980s when he worked on behalf of dissidents from the Soviet Union, China and other countries. In the years since, Winick has worked tirelessly on behalf of human rights throughout his career and has been instrumental in the success stories of several Scholars at Risk scholars from around the globe. [Photo courtesy of APS.] more »   

Protecting Education from Attack

February 11, 2010 – Scholars at Risk staff participated in a meeting of experts, NGO specialists and United Nations agency representatives who gathered to discuss the steps necessary to better strengthen the protection of education from attack. Held at Human Rights Watch's New York offices, the meeting provided a forum to consider the possible formation of a coalition dedicated to defending education from attack in part through joint advocacy, information sharing and collaborative action. Over the following several months, steps were taken to formalize this initiative, now called the Global Coalition for Protecting Education from Attack. Scholars at Risk is honored to be a part of the group establishing this new work.

Iranian Nobel Winner Launches Scholars at Risk, Ireland Section

September 22, 2009 – The Irish Section of Scholars at Risk was launched by Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi at an event in the Robert Emmet Theatre in Trinity College, Dublin, on the 22nd September 2009. This new partnership between Universities Ireland and the global Scholars at Risk network will provide support to threatened academics around the world, including by arranging temporary placements in Ireland to allow them to safely continue their work. Robert Quinn, Executive Director of Scholars at Risk, said: "We are delighted to celebrate the launch of our Irish Section. The practical help from Irish universities that will now be available to courageous intellectual leaders at risk in many countries today will help to save lives." more »




Scholars at Risk offers training sessions on best practices for promoting academic freedom and defending the human rights of scholars. Combining case study, role play and guided discussion, the sessions aims to equip participants to act effectively in defence of threatened scholars.  The trainings provide participants (university faculty, administrators, trustees, students, academic associations, unions and other stakeholders) with advice and guidelines for responding to threats to scholars, universities or associations around the world.

For further information on Scholars at Risk training sessions or to organize a session for your association or university, please contact or +1-212-998-2179+1-212-998-2179.
Examples of past trainings
American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Best Practices for Defending Threatened Scientists

Scholars at Risk partnered with the Welfare of Scientists Working Group of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to host a training workshop on best practices for defending threatened scientists. The workshop was held at the AAAS offices in Washington D.C. on January 21, 2010. Representatives from scientific associations, universities, government agencies and the private sector participated in the workshop, which addressed the role of international and regional human rights standards in protecting individual scientists; procedures for evaluating requests for assistance from colleagues at-risk; effective response strategies; proven public and private advocacy techniques; alert-writing; and intelligent ways to engage key stakeholders in efforts to defend threatened scientists.
American Conference of Academic Deans (ACAD)
Academic Freedom as Risk Management

Scholars at Risk presented a workshop on “Academic Freedom as Risk Management” at the American Conference of Academic Deans 66th Annual Meeting. The workshop, attended by provosts and deans from universities and colleges across the United States, was held on January 20, 2010 in Washington D.C. The session combined case study, role play and guided discussion to explore how grounding leadership in core university values can minimize threats to academic freedom, turning crises into opportunities to enhance an institution’s most valuable asset – its reputation.

Featured Past Events

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