Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions established in 1999 at the Chicago University. Its aim is to foster the promotion of academic freedom and protect the fundamental rights of scholars who are threatened or whose work is severely compromised. SAR headquarters are SAR-US (New York University) at the New York University and SAR-Europe at the Maynooth University (Ireland).
At the end of 2020, 550 universities from 42 countries joined the SAR International network, and most of them are based in the US, Canada and Europe. This growth indicates the interest and the support of the academic community towards the protection of thousands of scholars around the world: this support is made concrete through temporary protection programs, advocacy initiatives and learning activities on the importance of academic freedom and the consequences of its violation.
SAR membership requires from universities a commitment to implement the principles of academic freedom, and the subscription to an annual fee from 1000$ (contributing membership) to 5000$ (sustaining membership). The university has to name a primary representative for the institution. The membership with the international network automatically grants membership with the SAR national section.
SAR activities are organized upon three pillars: Protection, Advocacy, Research and Learning.
SAR publications (available with free download), include:
- The annual Report Free To Think, which explores concerning trends in attacks on higher education communities around the world thanks to scholars’ work with the project ‘Academic Freedom Monitoring Project’
- The Report (2020) on academic freedom in China ‘Obstacles to Excellence: Academic Freedom and China’s Quest for World Class Universities’;
- The Report Academic Freedom Index, in collaboration with the Global Public Policy Institute;
- SAR Global Congress Report (2020);
- SAR 20th Anniversary Report (2020).
For those who would like to join: Get Involved
Here is an introductory video about SAR International.
At an international level, important national protection programs for at-risk scholars are in place. Some of these programs are co-funded between public and private institutions (France, Germany and Finland), while others are funded by private institutions (US and UK).
The main programs are:
- Philipp Schwartz Program (PSI) and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) in Germany, with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation;
- PAUSE Program (Programme d'aide à l’Accueil en Urgence des Scientifiques en Exil) in France;
- EDUFI Program in Finland;
- CARA Program (Council for At-Risk Academics) in UK;
- Scholar Rescue Fund, established in 2002 by the Institute of International Education (SRF-IIE).
Additional information on protection and hosting are available in the dedicated page
In order to foster advocacy strategies to support the protection of academic freedom, SAR International promotes activities that each university can carry out individually, in collaboration with other universities that are members of the same national section (SAR Italy) or with other national sections in Europe, Canada or US:
- Student Advocacy Seminars; See also the: Student Advocacy Handbook and the Student Advocacy Days
- Scholars in Prison Project;
- Academic Freedom Monitoring Project.
SAR advocacy work is supported at the European level by European Coordinating Committee for Academic Freedom Advocacy, which pursues actions in defence of academic freedom in order to increase advocacy efficacy going beyond the academic community and reinforcing synergies with different actors in Europe.
In particular, it aims to:
- Inform policymaking in Europe as it relates to academic freedom;
- Expand and coordinate advocacy by European actors;
- Increase participation from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe.
Scholars At Risk International
email: scholarsatrisk [at] nyu.edu
Phone: + 1-212-998-2179 / Fax: + 1-212-995-4427
411 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY, USA 10003