May 14, 2019 – Leaders from universities across Slovakia will convene on May 23, 2019 at Art Books Coffee in Bratislava to launch the Slovakia section of Scholars at Risk (SAR). The launch is organized by the Bratislava Policy Institute, which will act as the secretariat of the section during a three-year pilot phase.
The establishment of the SAR Slovakia section comes at a time of growing concern around academic freedom in Eastern Europe. “We need to promote academic freedom among students and scholars, the true values of university life. We need it in this time of commercialization,” said Viera Žúborová, the Executive Director of the Bratislava Policy Institute.
SAR sections are groups of higher education institutions and associations that are nationally organized to coordinate national and local-level activities in support of academic freedom and higher education values. The SAR Slovakia Section is being established to expand knowledge about academic freedom in the world and foster a community that nurtures the free exchange of ideas and opinions.
“SAR is proud to partner with the Bratislava Policy Institute and universities in the Slovak Republic as we stand in solidarity with educators, researchers and students around the world who are threatened for peacefully expressing ideas and asking questions,” commented Joyce Pisarello, Director of Membership and University Relations at SAR. “Academic freedom is fundamental to providing quality higher education. We look forward to working with our partners in Slovakia to preserve and promote the freedom to think, locally and globally.”
The founding members of the Slovakia Scholars at Risk Network are:
- Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts
- Bratislava Policy Institute
- Matej Bel University
- Pan-European University
- University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava
National sections already exist in Denmark, Italy, the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, and Finland, along with sections formed alongside partners in the United Kingdom with CARA (the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics) and Belgium and the Netherlands with UAF (the Foundation for Refugee Students).
The SAR Slovakia Section launch will be held in association with the 2019 Freedom Festival. Participants will gather in Bratislava to explore ways to mobilize Slovak society to better understand and defend academic and creative freedoms, which include freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of thoughts, freedom of research, and freedom of art. The program features documentaries, discussions, exhibitions, plays, and concerts which highlight injustice and celebrate free expression.
About Scholars at Risk: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 500 higher education institutions in 38 countries working to protect threatened scholars and promote academic freedom. SAR protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary positions for those forced to flee. Through monitoring and advocacy, SAR identifies, documents and takes action in response to threats and attacks on higher education communities. Through working groups, conferences, research, and publications, SAR brings together leading scholars, advocates, students and professionals to inform and shape on-going work to promote stronger university values worldwide.