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Scholars at Risk: Human Rights and Academic Freedom

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  • UserThe president of the UK Exiled Journalists Network; A female Iranian lawyer and women's/children's rights campaigner; A Zimbabwean politics academic; Chaired by Sir Martin Harris (President, Clare Hall)
  • ClockMonday 26 April 2010, 17:00-19:00
  • HouseLG18, Faculty of Law, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sharath Srinivasan.

Refugee academics take part in a roundtable discussion to share their experiences confronting professional and personal threats in their native countries along with the challenges of settling and working in the UK.

Discussion followed by a drinks reception in the Faculty of Law. ALL WELCOME .

See also CRASSH website

Background: Curbs on academic freedom concern all scholars. Funding slashes may wreak havoc on our work, yet elsewhere colleagues at the sharp end of violations of academic freedom suffer persecution, intimidation, mental and even physical abuse and death. Too often, their families suffer directly with them.

For over 75 years, the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) has assisted refugee academics in the UK to adjust to life in the UK and pursue their work in a supportive academic environment. The University of Cambridge has been involved with CARA from its very first days. The Academic Assistance Council, forerunner to CARA , was set up with the help of Lord Rutherford, John Maynard Keynes, Professor AV Hill (later University MP for Cambridge) and the physicist Sir William Bragg.

Many refugees, helped by CARA , settled in Cambridge and their work has helped change the world around us. The scientists Max Born, Hans Krebs and Max Perutz were some of the early academics to arrive at Cambridge and all were awarded Nobel Prizes for their research. Others to find a home in Cambridge include Sir Geoffrey Elton (Ehrenberg), who came to dominate the field of medieval history, and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the first Slade Professor of Fine Art.

Cambridge also helped generations of scholars, for example from South Africa or Chile, who were displaced by persecution but were to be the mainspring of the rebuilding of their countries once return was possible.

More recently, the Cambridge Colleges Hospitality Scheme has welcomed Iraqi Visiting Scholars each year – highlighting their bravery in the face of death threats and their determination to go back and rebuild their country.

Cambridge’s notable tradition of assisting refugee academics and scholars at risk is a matter of pride but must serve as a foundation for continued and expanded efforts.

This seminar, hosted by the Centre of Governance and Human Rights (POLIS), in coordination with CARA and CRASSH , seeks to renew and redouble efforts within the University to support refugee academics and scholars at risk today and in the future.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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