SAR Italy

LIBERTAS. Spaces and practices of academic freedom

Beato Pellegrino Complex, Padova, Italy

22-24 June 2022

Please register here for the event. Deadline for registration 10 June 2022.

List of nearby hotels

Detailed programme

Academic freedom is a specific form of freedom of expression which has in the last few years gained prominence in European discourse and policy. References to academic freedom appear  in recent policy documents – such as the EU Strategy for Universities 2022-24, the Bonn Declaration on Freedom of Scientific Research adopted  at the Ministerial Conference on the European research Area (2020)  or the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on Threats to academic freedom and autonomy of higher education institutions in Europe (Rec 2189, 2020). Such references signal the relevance of the theme today, as universities’ institutional autonomy and researchers’ rights to enquiry and knowledge sharing are increasingly under threat, worldwide and in the European context. Yet it is also a long-standing issue and a foundational principle that has characterised the history of the University of Padova from its very inception 800 years ago. 

To celebrate eight centuries of commitment to the protection and promotion of academic freedom and to revive such commitment the University of Padova, in collaboration with Scholars at Risk Italy and Scholars at Risk Europe, is organising an international conference to discuss LIBERTAS. Spaces and practices of academic freedom. 

The aim of this conference is to promote knowledge and understanding of processes that – across the centuries and still today – have put academic freedom as a specific form of freedom of expression at stake, and to expand the debate on themes related to academic freedom and its violations. The conference adopts a trans-disciplinary approach to academic freedom,  informed by historical awareness and evidence of current threats, and it brings into dialogue voices from academia and other sectors as well as at-risk scholars. Furthermore, the conference considers the multi-level nature of commitment to academic freedom: local, national and European.

The conference is preceded by a workshop on “Engaging students in responsible Internationalisation” organised together with SAR Sweden, which is the final of three workshops organised in the context of the Swetaly collaboration between Italian and Swedish rectors’ conferences. Following the conference SAR Italy will hold its General Assembly.


June 22 ( Swetaly and SAR members only)

9.30 – 12.30
Swetaly collaborative programme for displaced scholars
Rebuilding careers in exile workshop: The practicalities of rebuilding careers

14.30 – 17.30
Third Swetaly Workshop
SAR Student advocacy seminars (SAR Italy )
Responsible internationalisation (SAR Sweden )

17.45 – 18.30
Music in the courtyard “Mi Linda Dama”


June 23

9.30 – 10.15
Opening and institutional welcome
10.30 – 13.00
Session I
Libertas. Tra religione, politica e saperi / Libertas. Between religion, politics and knowledge

14.30 – 16.00
Session II
Europe level action to protect academic freedom (SAR Europe)

16.30 – 18.00
Session III
Refugee scholarship and knowledges of Europe: challenges and precarious balances

18.45 – 20.30
Guided tour: Spaces of libertas


June 24

9.00 – 10.00
Session IV
Framing advocacy and internationalisation

10.00 – 10.45
Launch of a Students’ Manifesto on Academic Freedom

11.00 – 12.00
Session V
Involving students in responsible internationalisation (with care)

12.00 – 13.30
Session VI
Protecting academic freedom: call for an Italian national program for scholarships

Conference closing remarks

15.00 – 18.00
SAR Italy national assembly (members only)

15.00 – 18.00
Swetaly collaborative programme for displaced scholars
Rebuilding careers in exile: EU funding opportunities


Scientific coordination

Claudia Padovani, Francesca Helm

Confirmed speakers

Adriano Mansi, Andrea Martini, Andrea Caracausi, Cristina La Rocca, Giulia Albanese,  Giulia Zornetta,  Paola Molino, Sofia Giunta (University of Padova)

Participants from the SAR Student advocacy seminar organised at the University of Padova during the spring semester 2022 

Ali Ali (University of Helsinki, SAR scholar), Andrea Spagnolo (University of Torino), Arien Mack (New University in Exile Consortium), Asli Vatansever (Bard College, Berlin), Cynthia Klestinec (University of Miami), Denise Roche (SAR Europe), Dennj Solera (University of Bologna), Emily Borzcik (Scholars Rescue Fund), Ester Gallo (University of Trento), Hanna Marcus (Harvard university), Joel Hanisek (SAR Europe), Julia Runte (Global Campus of Human Rights), Katrin Kinzelbach (GPPi) Magdalena Kmak (Åbo Akademi University), Matteo Vespa (European Students Union), Paula Findlen (Stanford University), Victoria Fontan (Institute for Afghan Studies)


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