About SAR Advocacy
Scholars at Risk reports on and responds to a global phenomenon of attacks on higher education by promoting academic freedom as a human right and calling for accountability and protections for academic freedom. Working with academic institutions, governments, volunteers, and other partners around the world, SAR raises awareness and advocates for at-risk scholars, students, and higher education institutions.
Monitoring and Reporting
SAR staff and research volunteers identify, document, and report on attacks on higher education, including physical violence, imprisonment, prosecution, restrictions on academic travel, loss of positions, and other severe and systemic attacks through the Academic Freedom Monitoring Project.
SAR’s annual Free to Think report series explores concerning trends in attacks on higher education communities around the world and urges state and non-state stakeholders to join us in protecting and promoting academic freedom and international advocacy efforts. Read Free to Think.
Number of attacks recorded in Free to Think 2023
Responding to Attacks and Increasing Awareness
Through the Scholars in Prison Project, SAR advocates on behalf of scholars and students who are wrongfully imprisoned in connection to their academic or expressive activities.
SAR frequently publishes and joins statements and appeals calling for the release of imprisoned scholars. Sign up for SAR’s Advocacy Insider newsletter to get updates on Scholars in Prison Project cases.
On a weekly basis, SAR circulates news on academic freedom in higher education in the Academic Freedom Media Review newsletter.
In submissions to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism where UN Member States conduct peer reviews of other states’ human rights records, SAR encourages states and the higher education sector to respond to concerning developments in academic freedom and to attacks on the sector.
International Community of Partners
SAR builds protections for the international higher education community by developing partnerships and coalitions with academia, civil society, and government stakeholders committed to targeted academic freedom advocacy at the regional level.
SAR collaborates with international partners to develop regional coalitions to organize and execute academic freedom promotion and advocacy activities. These coalitions, focused on discrete geographic regions, will bolster a stronger global movement to safeguard academic freedom through collaboration with other regional and international groups, networks, and institutions. In 2021, SAR joined the Human Rights Research & Education Centre at the University of Ottawa and the University of Monterrey to form the Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA). The Coalition is a network of advocates, experts, activists and scholars working to protect academic freedom and the higher education community in the region.
Through collaboration with universities around the world, SAR works with students to conduct research and advocacy for imprisoned scholars and on attacks on higher education in Student Advocacy Seminars and Academic Freedom Legal Clinics.
SAR Europe, hosted at Maynooth University, is the European office of the global Scholars at Risk network. SAR Europe supports and coordinates the activities of SAR partner networks across Europe, including the European Coordinating Committee for Academic Freedom Advocacy. The Committee works towards greater integration of academic freedom within Europe’s higher education, research, and human rights systems, and encourages European states to take tangible action to promote and protect academic freedom nationally, regionally, and globally.
SAR also cultivates a community of researchers whose work focuses on academic freedom. Through generous support and partnership of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Mellon/SAR Academic Freedom Workshop and Fellowship program provides a research stipend and supportive professional community for early career researchers to develop and share related work on academic freedom and/or related higher education values.
Encouraging Implementation of Tools to Protect Academic Freedom
Working with partners, SAR has developed tools and materials to increase knowledge of and facilitate the protection of academic freedom.
Those interested in exploring the meaning of academic freedom and how it relates to core higher education and societal values, can register for SAR’s open online course (MOOC), “Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters”. Since its first run in spring 2018, the free online course has enrolled over 5,000 participants from nearly 150 countries.
The Principles for Implementing the Right of Academic Freedom, developed by the SAR-led Working Group on Academic Freedom (WGAF), provide authoritative guidance on this topic.
Subscribe to SAR’s weekly Academic Freedom Media Review and bimonthly Advocacy Insider newsletters to stay informed about SAR’s activities and developments around the world.
Check out the Events page for upcoming seminars and conferences.