Academic Freedom Legal Clinics

Posted August 14, 2018

Scholars at Risk’s legal clinics give students and faculty the opportunity to engage locally and internationally with practical and theoretical issues relating to academic freedom, responses to attacks on higher education, and related human rights issues.

University of Ghent Academic Freedom Legal Clinic students present at SAR European Student Advocacy Days 2023

Faculty and students participating in SAR’s clinics address often novel questions of local and international law, allowing SAR to deepen our substantive knowledge of country conditions and advance advocacy work at the national level. Through the clinics, SAR aims to develop long-term partnerships with universities around the world, and to cultivate a generation of human rights leaders steeped in issues involving academic freedom and university values. Clinical projects have been hosted by human rights centers, law schools, and other university programs at institutions in Belgium, Ireland, Palestine, and the US.

Clinics are generally led by one faculty member, with 5-10 student participants (typically, but not exclusively, at the graduate level), and support and oversight provided by SAR. Clinics may involve:

  • Monitoring and reporting to SAR on attacks on higher education locally, or in countries of interest
  • Legal analysis at the local, regional or international level
  • Development of advocacy in response to particular attacks


  • Make administrative arrangements for a clinical project, including all local academic requirements
  • Coordinate with SAR staff on establishing a clinical focus as well as goals and timeline for the project
  • Meet regularly with students to discuss and coordinate research and advocacy efforts


  • Set up a research and monitoring plan, including automated media reviews, primary research, and contact with human rights groups and other stakeholders
  • Draft reports of potential incidents according to SAR’s monitoring methodology for submission via the Academic Freedom Monitoring Project’s website
  • Where feasible, contribute to and develop additional action before local, regional, and international mechanisms


  • Provide an overview of and answer questions related to SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and additional potential actions the clinic might consider
  • Connect faculty and students, as appropriate, with external research and advocacy stakeholders
  • Host periodic conference calls or webinars to discuss progress, share monitoring updates, or answer questions about research methodology and advocacy more generally

Learn more by downloading the Academic Freedom Legal Clinics Flyer. If you are a faculty member interested in organizing a SAR legal advocacy clinic at your institution, please contact Jesse Levine at