Research & Learning

SAR’s research and learning opportunities include handbooks, reports, courses and workshops, conferences and fellowships, bringing together faculty, students, higher education community members, and the wider public to discuss global and regional academic freedom climates. As spaces for free inquiry and expression shrink worldwide, education and dialogue are intended to facilitate solutions that strengthen the university space.

Promoting Core Higher Education Values

Universities and the wider higher education community bear an essential obligation to provide the space in which academic freedom is not only protected, but promoted. SAR offers a proactive framework that recognizes the interconnectedness of core higher education values that maintain a healthy space to think, question, and share ideas.

  • Build understanding and respect for higher education values & their contributions to society
  • Avoid “pitfalls” of neglect and oversimplification
  • Provide a framework for dialogue, analyzing incidents, and risk management
  • Develop individual & institutional responses to protect higher education values

Establishing structural protections for academic freedom

Read more about the ‘Principles.”

The SAR network has contributed to and led efforts to establish structural protections for academic freedom worldwide. In March 2023, a SAR-led Working Group on Academic Freedom drafted ‘Principles for Implementing the Right of Academic Freedom,’ intended to establish authoritative guidance on the topic. In July 2023, SAR organized a UN Human Rights Council (HRC) side event on academic freedom, sharing the ‘Principles’ project to States and UN actors.

Research & Learning Opportunities

SAR Scholar Speaker Series

Orla Duke SAR Europe, Dr Prosper Maguchu, Professor Patrick O’Shea – President University College Cork (UCC), and Dr Angela Flynn, UCC

Scholars visit member institutions as part of SAR’s Scholar Speaker Series to share their academic work and stories of courage and perseverance. Invite a scholar to speak.

Through the SAR Speaker Series, scholars often join lectures, panels, workshops, and seminars at institutions within the network to discuss their academic expertise and the threats they experienced in their home country.

Workshops and conferences

Scholars at Risk and its partners worldwide organize workshops and biennial conferences around the world, bringing together leading scholars, advocates, students and professionals to rethink issues of academic freedom, and related values. 

SAR welcomes opportunities to co-organize workshops, seminars, round-tables and other events focused on academic freedom and related university values. To learn more, please contact

Mellon/SAR Academic Freedom Workshop & Fellowship

Made possible by the 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 researchers to develop and share related work on academic freedom and/or related higher education values leading to a publishable article; new course offering; workshop, webinar, or conference presentation; or other identified end product. Learn more.

“Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters” free, online course

SAR’s massive open online course (MOOC), “Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters” explores the meaning of academic freedom and how it relates to core higher education and societal values. Since its first run in spring 2018, the free online course has enrolled over 5000 participants from nearly 150 countries. Sign up for the course.


“How to Host” is primarily for officers, administrators, faculty and others at higher education institutions as they explore their interest in, plan for, and host threatened scholars and other intellectuals as visiting scholars on their campuses. “Promoting Higher Education Values: A Guide for Discussion” is intended to frame and facilitate discussion about higher education values and their implementation in a wide range of settings. “Getting Involved” describes how individuals and institutions can promote academic freedom with the SAR Network through protection, advocacy, and learning opportunities.


See all SAR Handbooks


The Summary Report on Activities outlines Scholars at Risk’s annual activities for the fiscal year spanning September 1, 2021 – August 31, 2022. It covers the growth of our global network and our core work in protection, advocacy, research & learning. Free to Think 2022 is the eighth installment of an annual report by SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and looks at 391 attacks on higher education communities around the world. Free to Think 2023 will be released in Oct. 2023.


See all SAR Reports & Publications

See Partner Publications


Free to Think Podcast

Free to Think features conversation with individuals whose research, teaching, or expression falls at the always sensitive intersection of power and ideas. Rob Quinn, SAR’s Executive Director, invites guests who share stories of currently or formerly threatened scholars, students, or practitioners; commentary on recent academic freedom issues; examination of legislative or policy developments; interviews with authors and filmmakers; and conversations with SAR network members and partners.

Listen to “Free to Think” on SAR’s website or on any major podcast platform, including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.