Robert Quinn

Posted April 15, 2016

Robert Quinn is the founding Executive Director of the Scholars at Risk Network, an independent not-for-profit corporation based at New York University, and host of the Free to Think podcast.

Mr. Quinn formerly served as a member of the Council of the Magna Charta Observatory, based in Bologna, Italy; Executive Director of the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund; on the Steering Committee of the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR), based in London, UK; a member of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a member of the Scientific Committee of Pax Academica, an online journal on academic freedom in Africa published by CODESRIA from Dakar, Senegal; a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows Program in Washington, DC. He received an A.B. cum laude from Princeton in 1988, a J.D. cum laude from Fordham in 1994, and honorary doctorates from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2010 and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2023. In 2012, Mr. Quinn and Scholars at Risk received the University of Oslo’s human rights award, the Lisl and Leo Eitinger Prize, for “relentless work to protect the human rights of academics and for having inspired and engaged others to stress the importance of academic freedom.”

Selected Publications:

(2022, May 18). From words to actions: A call for international guidelines on implementing academic freedom. Global University Network for Innovation.

(2021, November 12). Openness on American campuses is under threat. Here’s how we preserve it. Charles Koch Foundation.

(2021, September 17). Our Universities Can Save Afghanistan’s Best and Brightest | OpinionNewsweek.

(2021, April 18). Academic Self-Censorship Is a ‘Brain Drag’ on Arab Universities and Societies. Al-Fanar Media.

(2021, April). What is academic freedom? in A New Beginning: Philipp Schwartz-Initiative for Researchers at Risk. Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung/Foundation.

(2021, March 14). Robert Quinn, Janika Spannagel and Ilyas Saliba. Why university rankings must include academic freedom. University World News.

(2021, January 27). Biden promises truth after Trump’s lies. How to hold leaders accountable for their words. THINK,’s digital opinion section.

(2019, October 2019). The Fight to Protect–and Define–Academic Freedom. Academe, the magazine of the AAUP.

(2019, Winter 2019). Defending the Line on Academic Freedom. Modern Language Association (MLA) Profession.

(2017). Free speech is not enough. AAC&U, Diversity & Democracy.

(2017).  A conversation on Scholars at Risk (interview). Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Ethics Matter.

(2017, February 9). Cruelty at the border. Inside Higher Ed.

(2016, October 31). End global crisis of attacks on higher education. The Washington Post.

(2016, April 26). Academic freedom on trial in Turkey. The Washington Post.

(2016, January 25). The war on education. The Washington Post.

(2015, June 1). Can universities go global without losing their values? The British Council’s Voices Magazine.

Quinn, R. & Levine, J. (2014). Intellectual-HRDs and claims for academic freedom under human rights law. International Journal of Human Rights, 18(7-8), 898-920.

(2014, April 23).  Should an MOU on values be standard in international higher education partnerships? European Association for International Education (EAIE). 

(2013). Institutional autonomy and the protection of higher education from attack. Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. (research supervisor and editor)

(2013, October 16). What Iran must do to protect academic freedom. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(2012, May 7). Why help Chen Guangcheng? The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(2010). Attacks on higher education communities: A holistic, human rights approach to protection. In Protecting education from attack: A state of the art review (pp. 99-110). Paris, France: UNESCO.

View CV 


Title Executive Director
In People Roles: Staff