Scholars at Risk today (June 23) released the first report of the SAR Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, Free to Think, at the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Clark University became a member of the Scholars at Risk Network in 2011 and shares the network's commitment to preventing attacks on higher education. As such, Clark calls attention to the Free to Think report, which indicates that scholars, students and other members of higher education communities around the world regularly suffer violent and coercive attacks. The culmination of four years of monitoring and analysis by Scholars at Risk staff and researchers around the world, Free to Think demonstrates 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. Clark University has established a long and esteemed legacy of effective practice – both locally and around the world -- in the protection of academic freedom and rights of populations displaced through forced migration, political violence, environmental upheaval and natural disaster.
“Scholars at Risk has expressed its support of the work Clark University is doing in presenting SAR speakers and publicizing the SAR agenda to raise awareness of academic freedom and the need to protect people who speak out,” said Anita Fábos, associate professor in the Department of International Development, Community & Environment at Clark.
On June 18, Fábos was invited to discuss best practices in organizing SAR speaker series, during a SAR U.S.-wide conference call. She touched upon the following points:
- Clark’s activities with the SAR program take place within a broader campus interest in refugees, displacement and forced migration. The University has been developing a graduate teaching program, a research collaboration with the city of Worcester, and several student and faculty projects both locally and internationally that build knowledge about refugee community members and the circumstances in which they live.
- Clark was grateful to have welcomed Dr. Alfred Babo, a Scholar at Risk hosted by the Five College Consortium, for a semester to teach in the International Development and Social Change undergrad major. Babo is developing a forced migration initiative at Smith College, and one of the goals is to find ways for students at Clark and Smith to participate in joint learning, research and action around refugees and other forced migrants.
- SAR efforts at Clark include building bridges to other campuses in Worcester to find ways to join forces to promote awareness of the threats to academic freedom around the world.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of more than 360 higher education institutions in 38 countries working to protect threatened scholars, promote academic freedom and prevent attacks on higher education communities around the world since 2000. SAR protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging positions of sanctuary for those forced to flee, and advocating for scholars facing prosecution, imprisonment or other restrictions through the Scholars-in-Prison Project. SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project identifies and reports attacks on higher education to protect vulnerable scholars and students, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future violations. Institutions or individuals interested in participating in network activities should visit www.scholarsatrisk.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.