News and Events

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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Higher Education in Syria: Protecting Academia Amid Civil War

The war in Syria has generated the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis, with a devastating impact on professors, university students, and the country’s education sector. On May 17, 2016, the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education hosted a panel discussion on “Higher Education in Syria: Protecting Academia Amid Civil War,” which explored the impact of the Syrian crisis on higher education, and the broader political and security implications for higher education in conflict settings. The panel included an IIE-SRF fellow from Syria; Dr. Rochelle Davis, his Georgetown University host; IIE President and CEO Allan Goodman; and the director of Brookings’ Center for Universal Education.

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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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2016 IIE-SRF Forum

IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Forum: Scholar Voices and University Action

The 2016 IIE-SRF Forum convened partners from diverse sectors—including higher education, human rights, government, and philanthropy—to address the urgent need to support scholars around the world who have suffered under repression and conflict. The Forum included panels on which IIE-SRF fellows reflected on their experiences in 2015, partnering universities explored effective responses to the causes and consequences of scholar persecution, and regional experts examined the impact of the Islamic State (ISIL) on academics.

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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Forum Magazine: Internationalization in a Conflicted World

By Maija Airas and James R. King

The Syrian and Iraqi higher education sectors and the lives of their researchers and students have been upended due to conflict and war. In oppressive regimes, the academic pursuit of knowledge is commonly seen as a threat. These at-risk individuals often have a lot to contribute to human intellectual advancement. In Finland, among much discussion on the issue of refugees, a novel partnership is connecting some of these individuals to higher education institutions that can host them.

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