Mellon / SAR Academic Freedom Workshop & Fellowships

 Call for Applications | 2022-23 Mellon/SAR Academic Freedom 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.

Over the course of the eight-month program, fellows complete their proposed project and participate in regular virtual workshop sessions during which they will be asked to present the progress of their work and to offer feedback on the work of other fellows.

In the second half of the program, fellows are expected to prepare and deliver an online talk or webinar presentation of their work for SAR staff, network members, and guests. Fellows receive a stipend to cover research expenses, publication, or other related costs. In addition, participants have the opportunity to gain exposure to SAR’s programming and to network with SAR partner-experts on academic freedom issues.

Click here to download a copy of the call for applications.

Text: 2021–2022 Mellon / SAR Academic Freedom Fellows


University of Florida, United States

Frank Fernandez is Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration & Policy at University of Florida. He writes about educational policy and equity issues. His work on free speech rights and academic freedom includes co-authoring The Contested Campus: Aligning Professional Values, Social Justice, and Free Speech and articles in Penn State Law Review and Belmont Law Review.

Investigating the empirical relationship between academic freedom and STEM research production  |  For this project, I will use longitudinal, cross-national data to address two research questions. First, I will consider: Is there a positive relationship between country-level academic freedom and research production (number of STEM publications)? Second, Is there a positive relationship between academic freedom and research production as measured by quality of STEM publications (i.e., journal ranking)?




Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany

Rosario Figari Layús is post-doctoral researcher at the Chair of Peace Studies at the Justus Liebig University of Giessen in Germany. She also collaborates as a researcher with the German-Colombian Peace Institute – Capaz in Colombia. Rosario holds a PhD in Political Science from the Phillips University of Marburg. Previously she earned a Master degree in Social Sciences from Humboldt University of Berlin and a degree in sociology from the University of Buenos Aires. Her areas of work and research focus on human rights protection, academic freedom, political and gender-based violence, transitional justice and peace and conflict studies.

Protecting scholars at risk and academic freedom in contexts of extreme violence: The cases of Colombia and Brazil  |  This project analyzes the current trend of growing attacks against academic freedom in Colombia and Brazil as well as the protection strategies implemented by universities to provide support and protection to scholars. The project pursues the following objectives: to identify and analyze patterns of violence against scholars in Brazil and Colombia; to evaluate university responses and procedures in dealing with scholars at risk; to develop  recommendations (as guidelines) for universities responding to cases of attacks and intimidation of researchers; to raise awareness of the situation of scholars at risk in Colombia and Brazil in national and international fora.



Katarzyna Kaczmarska

University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Katarzyna Kaczmarska is a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh. In her research, she focuses on knowledge construction among scholars and practitioners of international politics, the role of the socio-political context in knowledge production, and the challenges to academic freedom. Her regional expertise is in the post-Soviet area, with special reference to Russia. Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, she was a Marie-Skłodowska Curie Fellow at Aberystwyth University and St Petersburg State University. 

Grassroots resistance to academic freedom violations in Russia  |  This project focuses on four grassroots initiatives that have among its aims the promotion of knowledge about academic freedom, countering and counteracting academic freedom violations in Russia. I analyze how those organizations promote knowledge about academic freedom, how they organize resistance against academic freedom violations, and how effective they are in meeting their goals.



David Ngira

Mount Kenya University

Dr. Ngira is a former Postdoctoral Research Associate at Cardiff University where he researched on Covid 19, the African state and human rights. Currently, he works as a Lecturer at Mount Kenya University Law Campus where he teaches Legal Theory, Sociology of Law, Law and Development and Human Rights. He holds an LLM in International Development Law and Human Rights from University of Warwick (UK) and a PhD in International Human Rights Law from Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

The implication of criminalization of homosexuality, traditional and religious values on the teaching of social sciences in Kenyan Universities  |  This project seeks to document the experience of lecturers teaching law and social sciences in faith-based universities in Kenya especially with regard to the issue of homosexual rights. In this regard, the project will explore how religious values, that are mainstreamed in employment contracts, teaching and research within these institutions, affect scholarship on LGBT rights. Through this strategy, the project will act as a platform for conversation on academic freedom in Kenya and will highlight the potential risks of the criminalization, cultural and religious sanctioning of homosexual rights on the teaching of human rights and social sciences generally.



Alida Binte Saqi

University of Asia Pacific, Bangladesh

Alida Binte Saqi is a socio-legal researcher and an educator with nine years of experience with field research. Her professional background includes  working with the tea workers’ community, readymade garments (RMG) sector workers’ rights, the dalit (Untouchable) community and hijra (Transgender) community in Bangladesh. She is skilled in academic writing, legal writing, report writing, in-field research management and lecturing. Ms Saqi has a Master’s Degree specialized in Comparative Law from McGill University. She is currently working as a Lecturer of Law with University of Asia Pacific, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Academic freedom in the Indian Subcontinent, current challenges, and potential solutions: Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan as case studies  |  Focusing on academic freedom in the Indian Subcontinent, this project will explore the current challenges and probable solutions on the basis of data gathered from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan (BIP). Interviews with scholars and students from the BIP will facilitate an understanding of the situation of academic freedom in these countries. Following data analysis, a guideline will be developed for the three countries in order to enshrine academic freedom as a right in their constitutions, state- and national-level laws, and interpret academic freedom based on the findings of this project.



Text: Alumni Fellows


Camila Nobrega

Free University of Berlin

Camila Nobrega is a Ph.D Candidate at the Free University of Berlin and a researcher alumni fellow from Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Heinrich Böll Foundation, among others. She is currently writing her Ph.D on power relations behind the implementation of megaprojects in Brazil at the Gender Divison ain the Political Science department at Free University of Berlin. Camila is also a transmedia journalist and writer with more than ten years of experience on environmental debates, mostly in its intersection with social inequalities, gender and human rights, working in the beginning as a full time reporter at O Globo newspaper in Brazil, having contributed after that with different media vehicles, such as The Guardian, Mongabay, Le Monde Diplomatique, among others. Nowadays she develops a project called Beyond the Green from the perspective of social-environmental justice and gender.

Academic freedom in the research of social-environmental conflicts: a case study with a focus on women scholars at risk in Brazil from non-heteropatriarchal approach | How can we understand the role of concepts as bodies and territories as part of academic freedom? This question is also an invitation to a trajectory of research. Therefore, from a perspective that combines the concept of academic freedom with mainly Latin American feminist lenses on social-environmental conflicts, this research proposes looking at scholars working in two regions in Brazil on issues related to these conflicts to understand which challenges they face and how it affects their academic investigations. The project was developed also in partnership with Prof. Dr. Maria do Mar Castro Varela at the Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin.