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Syria’s exiled academics tell their stories

By Matthew Reisz

Unlike many countries suffering a major humanitarian crisis, Syria had “a quite strong and accessible higher education system prior to the war”, James King, the assistant director of the New York-based Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, explains in an interview. 

“As hundreds of thousands of Syrians seeking refuge make their way to our shores,” the editors of Syrian Academics in Exile note in their introduction, “migration systems are collapsing, border fences are shooting up and far right ideologies which demonise all migrants are gaining ground.” 

Their collection is specifically designed to “serve as a reminder of the variety of Syrian academic expertise that exists around the world and offer a window into the wide variety of research being carried out by scholars in exile, not only in the social sciences, but also in other natural and applied sciences, e.g. engineering, healthcare, philosophy and in many interdisciplinary fields”.

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Supporting academics in exile nearby is key to future

By Farzan Al-Khalil

A Syrian scholar writes about the obstacles and choices facing Syrian scholars affected by war and violence in their home country. 

"Syrian academics, in particular, are exposed to great risks in this conflict. They are faced with not just expressing their rejection of the oppressive practices of the Syrian regime against its own people and the extremist groups that operate to impose their ideas by force, but also speaking up about what is happening around them – the killing of civilians who are merely asking for their freedom and for their dignity."

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Giulio Regeni’s Murder and the Global Erosion of Academic Freedom

By Stefania D'Ignoti

Like journalists and human rights activists, academic scholars operate on dangerous terrain in many countries where free speech is limited and criticism of the government is not tolerated. Regeni’s case is an eye-opening incident about a little-known phenomenon that affects the lives of many academics in authoritarian countries.

The Institute of International Education, an independent nonprofit located in New York, also runs a rescue fund that assists several dozen scholars who have had to flee their home countries due to threats or pressure, as a result of their academic research.

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Academics trapped in Syria and Iraq: what is the best way to help?

By Matthew Reisz

The Scholar Rescue Fund in New York has called further attention to the plight of academics trapped in Syria and Iraq – and what can be done to help them.

“We know that academics are specifically targeted by the so-called Islamic State,” said assistant director James King, “both because of their presumed secular outlook and also because they were employees of state institutions, and the state is the enemy in both Syria and Iraq. Individuals have been beheaded for refusing to comply with the changed curriculum.”

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Elsewhere in Science: Syrian scholars, management blunders, and more

By Knvul Sheikh

“The 5-year-old Syrian civil war has displaced 4.8 million people, including some 2000 scholars,” Knvul Sheikh wrote on Monday. A number of these “exiled researchers gathered to tell their stories and highlight the urgent need for support at a symposium in New York City on 29 April put on by the nonprofit Institute of International Education (IIE). According to IIE, fewer than 10% of the displaced scholars have resumed their academic careers. Most are still refugees in neighboring countries, where they encounter resentment and bureaucratic obstacles to finding jobs.” Read the full piece for more on their stories.

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Organizations Step Up to Help Scholars Fleeing War, Threats

By Karin Zeitvogel

The Washington Diplomat highlights the important work of an IIE-SRF fellow from Syria, the historic work of IIE in finding safe haven for threatened scholars worldwide, and the acute current need to support them now.

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Scholars describe exodus from Syria

By Knvul Sheikh

Science Magazine describes the conditions the drove Syrian scholars from their homes. IIE-SRF's 2016 Forum brought them together.

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The Power of Hope

By Stephen Schmidt

The University of Missouri profiles an IIE-SRF scholar from Syria specializing in endocrinology currently hosted at the university. 

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Institute of International Education Announces $1 Million Donation in Honor of Former DE Attorney General, Beau Biden

At a ceremony today in Wilmington, Delaware, the chairman of the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF), Mark Angelson, announced a $1 million gift in honor of Beau Biden, the former Attorney General of Delaware who passed away in May of 2015.

The endowment, made possible through an anonymous donation, will enable IIE-SRF to rescue one scholar in danger each year in perpetuity, as part of the organization’s work to ensure that there will always be a place where persecuted academics can find safe haven.

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New Research Voices publishes new issue featuring IIE-SRF scholars

New Research Voices (NRV) is a community platform for researchers to share their work, opinions, and ideas with other researchers from around the globe. NRV’s second journal issue, Syrian Academics in Exile, features contributors who have left Syria behind to pursue academic freedom in safe haven countries. 

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