Working Groups

Posted April 15, 2016

Scholars at Risk coordinates working groups to convene academics and students from around the world for collaborative research and advocacy on pressing issues related to academic freedom and higher education.

Promoting Higher Education Values (PHEV)

Globalization is pushing a historic transformation of higher education that presents many positive opportunities but also challenges for institutions, scholars and students working in places where academic freedom, autonomy and related values are not well understood or severely limited. Universities are at risk of implicitly accepting these limits when they open programs and campuses abroad without adequately ensuring ongoing adherence to values principles beyond perfunctory statements.

Recognizing this and the potential harm it could pose for scholars, students and the university itself, Scholars at Risk proposes that the higher education sector develop a standard practice of including a voluntary, transparent process for ongoing dialogue about values questions in every cross-border agreement. To learn more and express interest in joining the PHEV working group, please contact Lauren Crain.

Protecting Student Expression Project (PSEP)

In a number of cases around the world, student demonstrations have turned violent, because of state violence, infiltration by outsiders looking to undermine the movement, or student violence which overshadowed the wider student movement. Because the source of violence and circumstances of each incident can be difficult to verify, especially at great distance, the eruption of violence can make it more difficult for international advocates as well as local political, university and civil society leaders to come to the defense of students.

PSEP seeks to respond to this challenge, with the goal of increasing protection for student expression, student movements and their representatives. By convening representatives from student movements—past and  present, and in different world regions—the group will explore responses to the challenge of violence against higher education student movements with the aim of developing and implementing a public compact or statement on students’ right to expression. To learn more and to express interest in joining the PSEP working group, please contact Clare Robinson.

Wrongful Prosecutions

Counter-terrorism, blasphemy, sedition and similar laws are increasingly used to restrict free inquiry and expression, resulting in a shrinking academic and societal space for dialogue. These laws are often defended as reasonable restrictions on violent or anti-social conduct or as appropriate expressions of national or cultural prerogatives. In practice, they are used to restrict thought, punish expression, and intimidate individuals and society generally. Wrongful prosecutions under these laws not only threaten the well-being of targeted scholars, but also undermine the quality of academic work and public discourse, and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge, scientific and creative progress, and free expression.

The Wrongful Prosecutions working group seeks to build upon SAR’s understanding of how these laws are used to shrink the space for inquiry, and aims to develop a report on trends of wrongful prosecutions worldwide, including recommendations for challenging such laws in specific contexts. With the publication of this report, the group will partner with stakeholders to enact the report’s recommendations. To learn more and to express interest in joining the Wrongful Prosecutions working group, please contact Clare Robinson.