Magazine article Academe

Group Urges International Protections for Scholars

Magazine article Academe

Group Urges International Protections for Scholars

Article excerpt

The Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network hosted a conference in late April that brought together academics, human rights advocates, and experts on academic freedom, including the AAUP, to discuss threats to scholars and free inquiry worldwide. Participants included scholars whom SAR had helped to relocate after their writings or scholarship subjected them to persecution in their home countries. The conference explored strategies to assist such scholars and to improve conditions for academic freedom internationally. The Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund and the Open Society Institute cosponsored the conference, which took place at New York University.

SAR's members include more than a hundred colleges and universities committed to providing temporary academic positions for threatened scholars. Since its founding in 2000, the organization has received more than five hundred requests for assistance from scholars from ninety countries around the -world and arranged positions for more than five dozen scholars.

Initially, most scholars were placed in the United States. SAR's director, Robert Quinn, reported that non-U.S. placements have risen, however, partly because national security measures implemented over the past few years have made it more difficult for foreign scholars to obtain visas to come to the United States. In the next two years, SAR plans to expand placements outside the United States, but not only because of visa problems. Quinn says placing scholars in their own geographic regions can be beneficial for reasons of language familiarity, cost, and compatibility of academic credentials. At the same time, he says that regional placement is not viable when threats to a scholar's security cross borders.

Conference participants urged that efforts be made to promote understanding of academic freedom as an international right. …

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