The University of Trento joined Scholars at Risk in November 2017 and it was one of the promoters for the creation of the national section of Scholars at Risk-Italy. In February 2019, at the first National Assembly, the University was elected as co-coordinator of SAR Italy together with the University of Padova, and it is represented by Prof. Ester Gallo (Department of Sociology and Social Research) and Rector’s Delegate for Academic and International Solidarity. The national co-coordination of Trento and Padova was confirmed until 2023 during the National Assembly that took place on 8 March 2021.
UniTrento's membership with the SAR network has provided an important opportunity to collaborate with other national and international universities and research institutes, to strengthen existing partnerships and to establish new ones. During the period 2019-2021 the University of Trento had a leading role in promoting the SAR Italy network and in creating initiatives aiming at increasing attention towards academic freedom, in collaboration with institutions and civic society organizations at local, regional, national and European levels.
Collaborations at an international level include:
- SAR International Advisory Committee;
- Inspireurope and the Stakeholder Forum;
- New University in Exile Consortium.
Collaborations at a national level include:
- The Conference of Rectors of the Italian Universities - CRUI;
- Network of the Universities for Peace RUniPace;
- UNHCR "Manifesto for the Inclusive University".
SAR membership also had important implications at local and provincial levels, as it became an occasion to foster relationships with local organizations, from political institutions to no profit organizations, in line with the “Third Mission” goals. The shared value of academic freedom as a fundamental right for our society stimulated our university to cooperate with many local actors, such a:
- Autonomous Province of Trento
In 2018 and 2021, respectively, l’Assessorato all’Istruzione, Università e Cultura of the Autonomous Province of Trento co-funded two SAR UniTrento calls (2019; 2022) that established scholarships for at-risk scholars;
Since 2020, CARITRO supports the integration and the long-term career for at-risk scholars hosted at the University of Trento;
- Council of Triveneto Foundations
Since 2021, SAR UniTrento and the other SAR Italy members of the Triveneto area collaborate with the Council in order to co-fund research fellowships for at-risk scholars;
- Forum Trentino for Peace and Human Rights;
- Local section of the network ‘In Difesa Di’.
SAR UniTrento operates within the Equity & Diversity Office in collaboration with the Rectorate Office. In order to develop and implement protection, advocacy and training projects in a collegial way, a referent person has been identified for each academic structure.
The referents collaborate with the delegate Ester Gallo in order to plan, promote and improve the protection, advocacy and training activities at the relevant structures and evaluate the applications received for the UniTrento calls.
The SAR UniTrento protection project aims to identify the constitutive elements of a protection program, in the short to medium term, that enhances the scientific potential of scholars and scholars in exile through inclusion processes in the Trentino and Italian university community, and through dialogue with the international scientific community.
The SAR-UniTrento protection project stems from the recognition that solidarity towards at-risk scholars is a fundamental element of the principles of academic freedom and that it should play a central role in the internationalization and third mission programs of Italian Universities.
The SAR-UniTrento protection projects allows scholar to resume and pursue their academic work in a safe context, contributing to the scientific process of their research area and to foster fruitful relations with the academic community at local, national and international levels. At the same time, the projects aims at becoming an opportunity - for the University, the local territory and SAR Italy - to include different research perspectives and teaching subjects in their activities, to foster public debate and outreach initiatives on academic freedom and on the causes and consequences of its violation in specific geographical areas.
The Temporary Protection for at-Risk Scholars program is co-financed by the University with the support of external entities, such as the Autonomous Province of Trento, CARITRO Foundation and the Council of Triveneto Foundations.
In August 2019, the University of Trento opened the first national call dedicated to at-risk scholars, scholars applying for or already in possession of international protection status and/or SAR certification of risk.
The first experience of inclusion of scholars at risk in our University, which began in January 2020 and is currently underway, has proved to be very positive from the point of view of the scientific enrichment brought by SAR scholars present in our University, through their learning, research and debate activities. This experience has also shown an active participation and a strong willingness of involvement and scientific inclusion on the part of the University's academic structures, as well as constant support from the administrative staff.
For safety issues, information on the second scholar remains confidential.
The protection projects of UniTrento are also an important opportunity to develop the “third mission” of the University through the collaboration between the University and net of organizations / associations that work at local, national and international levels. At a local level, SAR project is an integral part of the goals of developing a culture of peace promoted by the “Trentino Forum for Peace”, of the “Shelter Cities Project “(Città Rifugio) promoted by the “Trentino Node” of the 'In Difesa Di' Network in collaboration with the PAT and the Municipality of Trento, as well as the Center for International Cooperation. SAR UniTrento also collaborates both at the provincial and national levels with associations / organizations such as UNHCR, UNESCO and Amnesty International.
The UniTrento SAR protection project works in accordance with those developed by other universities and national Poles in Europe, United Kingdom and in the United States.
Risk assessment criteria
The University does not provide risk assessment risk; instead, it relies on relevant international organizations, such as SAR (Application for Assistance), Council for At-Risk Academics - CARA (Get Support) or Scholar Rescue Fund - SRF (Eligibility Criteria). In accepting protection requests, Scholars At-Risk assesses the qualifying risk for the scholar. The procedure takes into account the following criteria:
- First-hand accounts of risk faced by the individual (a “risk statement”);
- Available corroborating documentation (including court records, letters of dismissal, and police reports), media and other reports about the individual’s situation or local or country conditions (including reports from the SAR Academic Freedom Monitoring Project);
- Where needed, external expert review and risk assessments, including where practical third parties who can personally attest to an individual’s risk;
- Interview with the scholar.
For what concerns the academic aspect, SAR collects information on the scholar’s CV, list of publications and professional experiences within the academic community.
Welcoming, monitoring and support
At-risk scholars arriving in Trento are supported by the SAR University representative, the Department representative and by a scientific tutor who collaborates with the Welcome Office in carrying out all the necessary bureaucratic procedures and in including the scholar within the community and the city.
These figures are responsible for discussing with the scholar issues related to privacy and security, including the possibility of publicising certain activities as SAR initiatives.
More information is available at the 2021 SAR Italy Vademecum (“Linee guida per l'accoglienza in Italia di studiosi/e a rischio”. Sections: Academic Tutoring, Privacy/Security) and the Vademecum “Prospect Scholars” of the University of Trento.
Call 2022 “Temporary Protection Project for At-Risk Scholars”
The University of Trento, a member of the international Scholars at Risk network (SAR) and of SAR-Italy, has just opened a Call for two 12-month (renewable for further 12 months) Research Fellowships for at-risk scholars. The fellowships are part of the “Temporary Protection for at-Risk Scholars” Project, co-funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento. The call is open to scholars who hold refugee status, are asylum seekers or are recognised as ‘at risk’ by accredited organisations like SAR, Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) or the Council for At Risk Academics (CARA).
To participate in the project, you must apply online by Monday 4 April 2022, 12.00 pm (noon), by selecting “University of Trento - Call for the selections for the awarding of no. 2 research fellowships within the "Temporary Protection Project" (Decree no. 2/2022/RET)”.
For more information: selezioni.ricerca [at] unitn.it
Petitions and advocacy campaigns
The University of Trento carries out various advocacy initiatives in favour of academic freedom, in order to keep the attention of political institutions and civil society high on these issues. As a member of the SAR network, the University of Trento defends academic freedom by joining advocacy campaigns organized by the national section and the international network in support of at-risk scholars because of their academic work.
The aim is to make academic freedom violations visible and to lobby political institutions and representatives in order to protect scholars’ rights.
To date, the Rector of the University of Trento joined the following campaigns:
- Petition in support of Dr. Ahmadreza Djalali (detained in Iran; petition signed on 11 January 2018);
- Letter in support of Chinese scholars and students who were prosecuted and detained because of their participation in the protests by Hong Kong Occupy Central with Love and Peace (petition signed on 11 December 2018);
- Petition in support of Amaya Eva Coppens, Nicaraguan student detained in Nicaragua because she joined the Movimiento Universitario 19 de Abril in defence of human rights.
- In collaboration with SAR Italy, and thanks to the support from colleagues of the Department of Sociology and Social Research, the University has promoted campaigns in support of Patrick George Zaki since March 2020.
In collaboration with SAR Italy, the University of Trento promoted a campaign in support of Belarusian scholars and students
SAR UniTrento has organized numerous activities to raise awareness of the Trentino civil society on the theme of academic freedom, human rights and refugees in the university world.
More information to advocacy initiatives promoted by the University is available at the dedicated page
- 9 March 2021 Conversazioni sul Futuro - Free Patrick Zaki - Prigioniero di Coscienza: Video.
- 20-21 November 2020 Il Trentino per i Diritti Umani: program of the event;
- Autumn 2020: SAR Italy Speaker series, organized by the University of Trento, la Scuola Normale Superiore and University of Padova within SAR Italy;
- 9-10 December 2019: International Workshop ‘Refugees and Higher Education: Hosting and Integrating Scholars and Students’, in collaboration with SAR Italy;
- 19-21 September 2019: Panel ‘Defending academic freedom and freedom of expression. The role of universities and international organisations’, organized by Ester Gallo with Claudia Padovani and Francesca Helm (University of Padova and SAR Italy co-coordinators) within the seminar CUCS ‘Citizenship and Common Goods’;
- 3 September 2020 ESOF Panel ‘Forced Out, Welcome In: European Actions for Researchers at Risk’ organized by the University of Trieste in collaboration with SAR Italy and University of Trento;
- February 2019 Winter School ‘Knowledges at Risk’ organized by the University of Padova and University of Trento summer/winter school (ex. Winter School by Padova during which SAR Italy was launched);
- Spring 2018: Series of interdisciplinary seminars ‘Human Rights and Academic Freedom’
Research and Learning
Since 2018, SAR UniTrento, in close synergy both with the other members of SAR Italy and with the local realities, has been conducting learning and research activities in the belief that increasing awareness of these issues is essential to protect academic freedom.
Student Advocacy Seminars
These are seminars designed for university students - undergraduate and graduate from different disciplinary backgrounds in social sciences, humanities and STEM - that are organized by SAR members and supported by SAR International; they aim at giving to the participants an interdisciplinary knowledge on academic freedom, foundations in organizing advocacy and human rights research and campaigns. This goal is achieved by involving students in analysing concrete case studies about at-risk scholars and in developing an advocacy campaign.
Between March and June 2019, the University of Trento organized the first SAR Students Advocacy Seminar in Italy, and saw the participation of students from the BA course in International Studies (Department of Sociology and Social Research). In particular, the students Pietro Carra, Ion Foltea, Francesca Ongaro, Federica Tagliavini and Clelia Zardini worked on an advocacy campaign in support of a university student from Nicaragua Amaya Eva Coppens.
Summer School: ‘Human Rights Advocacy: Scholars at Risk’ – 22 June 2020 – 24 July 2020
The University of Trento collaborated with Open Society University Network (OSUN), Bard College-New York, and Roger Williams University to organize the intensive Summer School ‘Human Rights Advocacy: Scholars at Risk’
The course involved 25 students coming from different countries and it focused on topics related to academic freedom, freedom of expression and human rights, on introduction to advocacy and on the development of advocacy campaigns in support of Uyghur scholars and students currently detained in China. Two students of the 2019 advocacy seminar from the University of Trento, Federica Tagliavini and Pietro Carra, joined the activities as tutors.
Coordinator of SAR UniTrento
ester.gallo [at] unitn.it
scholarsatrisk [at] unitn.it.
Induction and Additional Services Office
Via Giuseppe Verdi, 6, Trento, TN
Uff.AccoglienzaPersonale [at] unitn.it
Equality & Diversity Office
Via Calepina, 14 - 38122 Trento
equitadiversita [at] unitn.it