Posts Tagged ‘Academic freedom’

Relief for threatened scholars: the Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

May 10, 2017

Some support structures suffer from a lack of general knowledge. Here is one that I came across recently.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), in conjunction with the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Germany Section, convened the 3rd Workshop on the Philipp Schwartz Initiative (PSI) in Berlin, bringing together SAR staff, Philipp Schwartz Fellows, representatives of universities and research institutions in Germany supporting threatened scholars, and representatives from partner organizations.

As a part of AvH and supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and other private funders, the PSI provides universities and research institutions in Germany with the means to host at-risk foreign researchers with two-year, fully funded fellowships. Since the summer of 2016, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has invited applications to the PSI on behalf of scholars regardless of country of origin, current location, or academic field, as long as a demonstrable threat can be confirmed. The PSI is currently sponsoring more than 60 researchers, 34 of whom are SAR scholars. This number will undoubtedly grow, as the PSI has recently confirmed funding for an additional 30 grants.  Applications in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative cannot be submitted at this time. Applicants in the 3rd round will be informed of the outcome by 30 June 2017.

For more information about the important work being done, visit the Philipp Schwartz Initiative’s homepage and consult the most recent issue of AvH’s magazine, Humboldt Kosmos.

Who can apply?  Please note that researchers cannot apply on an individual basis only through host institutions in Germany.

Research-performing institutions in Germany in the following categories may apply:

  • public and state-recognised universities, including universities of applied sciences (“Fachhochschulen”)
  • Max Planck Institutes, Helmholtz Institutes, Leibniz Institutes, Fraunhofer Institutes
  • Federal and State Research Institutes
  • other research-performing institutions that can convincingly demonstrate their research focus and infrastructures

Successful applicants will be able to grant a Philipp Schwartz Fellowship to a threatened researcher. In detail:

  • institutions that were successful in the 1st or 2nd call for applications (no submission of support concepts in 3rd call; only nomination of researcher)
  • institutions that applied but were not successful in the 1st or 2nd call for applications
  • institutions that have not applied for Philipp Schwartz funding before

Who is eligible for a Philipp Schwartz fellowship?

Threatened researchers from any academic field and any country of origin who

  • have completed their doctorate or a comparable academic degree (PhD, CSc or equivalent)
  • have not been resident outside their own country for more than three years; researchers who hold German university entrance qualifications (“Bildungsinländer”) are not eligible
  • possess the language skills required to successfully conduct their research projects
  • possess academic qualifications (e.g. publications)
  • possess potential to be integrated into the (research-related) job market
  • who have not yet been funded in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative
  • persons that have access to residence in safe countries due to multiple citizenship and German citizens are not eligible for nomination
  • multiple nominations of one person by several institutions are not permitted

The Humboldt Foundation imposes no restrictions with regard to country of origin or current location if the threat can be confirmed in accordance with the programme guidelines.

What does the funding include?

  • fellowship funds including subsidies of 3,500 EUR/month for up to 24 months
  • a one-off lump sum of 12,000 EUR for the host institution

How can a threat to a researcher be confirmed in the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative?

In the context of the Philipp Schwartz Initiative, a pertinent threat of researchers who are demonstrably threatened in their countries can be confirmed in two ways:

  • by way of a residence status in the context of an asylum-granting procedure that confirms a recognised threat
  • by way of a credible threat assessment from a third party, such as the Scholars at Risk Network, the Scholar Rescue Fund, or the Council for At-Risk Academics

 

Source: Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation – The Philipp Schwartz Initiative of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation supported by the Federal Foreign Office

Europe also sees shrinking space for human rights defenders

April 4, 2017

On 4 April 2017 Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, wrote about “The Shrinking Space for Human Rights Organisations“. The new EU ‘alert site I referred to yesterday [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/03/protectdefenders-eu-launches-new-alert-website-but-no-single-stop-yet/] showed in 2016 some 86 reported violations in the European (and Central Asian) region, mostly detention and judicial harassment. Also the recent CIVICUS findings of the narrowing space for civil society points in this direction. An example could be Hungary as illustrated by reports of Human Rights Watch (2016), Human Rights First (2017) and Amnesty International (2016/17); the issue of academic freedom is not directly related but part of the restrictive trend [see links below].

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Scholars at Risk gives its “Courage to Think Defender Award” to Egypt’s detained scholars and students

June 9, 2016

Today, 9 June 2016, Egypt‘s wrongfully detained scholars and students received the 2016 Courage to Think Defender Award during the SAR Global Congress in Montreal, Canada. This is in recognition for their commitment to exercising the right to think, share and question ideas despite tremendous risks. SAR selected student representatives to accept the award in order to recognize their efforts to conduct research and advocacy on behalf of threatened scholars and students around the world. “The students are vital to raising awareness around cases of imprisoned scholars and students like these, and to promoting academic freedom globally and locally,” said Clare Robinson, Advocacy Director at SAR.

Over the past several years, SAR has observed an overwhelming crackdown on Egypt’s higher education community, including the reported use of violence, wrongful prosecutions and imprisonment, professional retaliation and travel restrictions against scholars and students across the country. According to data obtained by the Egyptian NGO, Association for Free Thought and Expression, over 2,000 university students and professors have been detained by security forces since July 2013.

SAR has presented the award only twice before, in 2011 to Aryeh Neier for his long career dedicated to free inquiry and expression including as the chair of the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Foundations, and in 2015 to Dean Habib Kazdaghli of Manouba University in Tunisia for defending his university from extremist pressures after the Arab Spring, including in the face of prosecution and death threats.

[Scholars at Risk: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of higher education institutions and individuals working to protect threatened scholars, promote academic freedom and prevent attacks on higher education communities around the world since 2000. SAR protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging positions of sanctuary for those forced to flee, and advocating for scholars facing prosecution, imprisonment or other restrictions through the Scholars-in-Prison Project. SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project identifies and reports attacks on higher education to protect vulnerable scholars and students, hold perpetrators accountable and prevent future violations. Institutions or individuals interested in learning more about SAR and its activities should visit http://www.scholarsatrisk.org or email scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu]

see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/scholars-at-risk-publishes-first-academic-freedom-monitoring-report-free2think/

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

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Scholars at Risk publishes first Academic Freedom Monitoring Report: Free2Think

June 23, 2015

SAR Free to Think report

“Attacks on higher education are at crisis levels”

Today, 23 June 2015, Scholars at Risk [SAR] released the first report of its Academic Freedom Monitoring Project at the United Nations in Geneva,: “Free to Think”. The culmination of four years of monitoring and analysis by SAR staff and researchers around the world, the report analyzes 333 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries from January 2011 to May 2015, demonstrating the pressing need to raise awareness and document attacks on higher education: Read the rest of this entry »

Student human rights defenders under pressure in Myanmar/Burma

April 27, 2015

Since November 2014, student organizations including the All Burma Federation of Student Union (ABFSU) have been protesting against the National Education Bill, which student activists claim restricts academic freedom. Enacted by Parliament on 30 September 2014, the National Education Law was intended to reform the country’s education system, but the ABFSU claim the government did not seek adequate student input in its formation. The new restrictions outlaw independent student and teacher unions, and erase ethnic languages, cultures and literatures from university syllabi.

Students opposed to the National Education Law staged a peaceful protest in Letpadan on 10 March 2015. Police responded violently to the movement. They arrested approximately 126 students, including student leaders Po Po, Nanda Sitt Aung and Phyo Phyo Aung. Three others, Myat Thu Aung, Kyaw Ko Ko (the Chairman) and Ye Yint Kyaw (spokesperson), managed to escape in March, but today they face criminal charges of unlawful assembly, rioting, incitement, and causing harm to a public servant. The charges carry penalties of up to three years in prison. Robert San Aung, who leads the Myanmar Lawyers’ Network team and is one the 3 Final Nominees of the MEA this year, said he believes the Court would not begin hearing the charges against those students currently detained, until police had apprehended those still in hiding.

The ABFSU is a student union with a long tradition and as far back as 2001 it won the Norwegian Student Peace Prize.

Myanmar/Burma – Student human rights defenders Myat Thu Aung, Kyaw Ko Ko and Ye Yint Kyaw facing charges | Front Line Defenders.

Submissions on Academic Freedom invited by Scholars at Risk – deadline 11 November

September 26, 2013

university valuesThe Scholars at Risk Network invites submissions for the Winter 2013 edition of University Values: a global bulletin on academic freedom, and the first of its kind around the world. Previous editions of the bulletin can be viewed at: http://www.scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Workshop/bulletin.php

University Values is an electronic bulletin featuring articles, essays, opinion pieces and announcements promoting discussion and understanding of university values, including values of access, accountability, academic freedom, autonomy and social responsibility.
Submission Requirements
Length: short articles of 500-700 words maximum.
Topic: on an academic freedom related issue of your choice. The article could, alternatively, contain news on important events, situations emerging in your region or specific countries or urgent appeals for scholars or universities in distress.
Deadline: November 11, 2013.
Contact: submit articles by email to scholarsatrisk@nyu.edu. Enter “University Values Submission” in the subject line of your email.
The University Values Editing Committee will select up to six articles for publication in the bulletin.  For more information about Scholars at Risk visit http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu.