LectureCitizenship, Scientific culture
Scholars at Risk Global Congress: The University and Democracy
International relations personnel represented the Université Grenoble Alpes (UGA) at the Scholars at Risk Global Congress, held April 23-26 in Berlin.
The organization provide protection, advocacy, and sanctuary to more than 300 threatened scholars every year. These individuals suffer grave threats to their liberty, well-being, and even their lives.

The University and Democracy

The Berlin congress was co-organized with the Freie Universität Berlin and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Over 500 participants from more than 60 countries gathered to discuss the role of the university and of academic freedom in maintaining democracy. Sessions highlighted the range of threats to students and scholars around the world, including war, repressive ideology, and autocratic government.

Speakers shared up to the minute information about conditions in China, India, Egypt, Hungary, Russia, Venezuela, and the US. Other panelists presented strategies for supporting at-risk students and scholars.

The Courage to Think

At an awards dinner, the Scholars at Risk Network 2018 Courage to Think Defender Award was given to Turkey’s Academics for Peace. They were recognized for their “extraordinary efforts in building academic solidarity and in promoting the principles of academic freedom, freedom of inquiry, and the peaceful exchange of ideas.”

Why Academic Freedom Matters

Understanding academic freedom is important not only to scholars, students, and higher education institutions, but also to citizens and society at large. As Justice Susanne Baer put it in her keynote address, how societies deal with scholars at risk is a “litmus test” for democracy, because “the more democracy is at risk, the less academic freedom.”

As a means of bringing this key question to a broader public, the academic refuge project is sponsoring a free online course, Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters. Interested? Sign up today.

Published on May 22, 2018
Updated on May 22, 2018