MESA Academic Freedom Award
Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) and Scholars at Risk (SAR)
MESA bestows its 2013 Academic Freedom Award in recognition of two organizations--the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) and the Scholars at Risk (SAR) program--for their efforts in support of Syrian higher education institutions and faculty. In 2002 the Institute of International Education created the Scholar Rescue Fund to respond to the humanitarian and academic needs of scholars whose lives and academic work are under threat for their research, identity, or beliefs or due to events in their home countries. The yearlong fellowships offered by IIE-SRF permit professors, researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at universities, colleges and research centers anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work in safety until conditions improve in their countries so that they can return to help rebuild higher education and civil societies. Through September of 2013, IIE-SRF has awarded nearly 40 fellowships to Syrian scholars whose fields range from neuroscience to gender studies and whose scholarship has been threatened as a result of factors ranging from political involvement to membership of a minority community. The program has arranged temporary academic positions for these scholars at over 20 institutions in 5 countries. Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 320 higher education institutions in 35 countries dedicated to protecting scholars, preventing attacks on higher education and promoting academic freedom. Scholars at Risk (SAR) protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being, primarily by arranging positions of sanctuary at network-member institutions for those forced to flee. SAR’s Scholars-in-Prison project campaigns for intellectuals facing unjust prosecution or imprisonment, and SAR’s new Academic Freedom MONITOR project works to combat impunity for violent attacks on higher education communities worldwide. Scholars at Risk is currently working with 28 pending candidates from Syria seeking host campuses and other assistance, including many still in Syria and others displaced in Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. SAR has been able to successfully place Syrian scholars at universities in the US and in Europe, with specialties ranging from computer engineering to theater studies. In recognition of their efforts in support of Syrian scholars, MESA is pleased to make this year’s Academic Freedom Award to the Scholar Rescue Fund and Scholars at Risk.