Scholars at Risk Network schedules conference, visit by Egyptian scholarBy William Harms
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian sociologist and democracy advocate, who was acquitted recently after nearly three years of arrest, imprisonment and repeated prosecution, has accepted an invitation to speak at a conference Monday, April 14 and Tuesday, April 15, organized by the Scholars at Risk Network.
Scholars at Risk, a project of the Universitys Human Rights Program, joined in letter-writing campaigns on Ibrahims behalf, along with academics, legal advocates, human rights defenders and policy-makers from around the world who championed his release. Ibrahim is a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo. He was charged with undermining the dignity of the state and tarnishing its reputation, in connection with work he did through an independent center that promoted democracy until it was closed by the Egyptian government.
Assuming no problems with travel relating to the current conflict in the region, Dr. Ibrahim is expected to join the Network Congress, most likely on April 15, and to discuss his experiences, said Robert Quinn, Director of the network.
In addition to Ibrahims address, the role of universities in defending and rescuing scholars under threat abroad will be discussed in a public session that opens the two-day conference.
The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 14, in the third-floor lecture hall in Swift Hall. Quinn will report on the networks recent work, including the rescue of several scholars who will share testimonials.
The conference will feature a keynote lecture presented by Leon Botstein (A.B.,67), president and the Leon Levy professor in the arts and humanities at Bard College, an institutional member of the network. Botstein is an accomplished music director and conductor with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Bard Music Festival and the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra.
The Scholars at Risk Network comprises more than 70 institutions in the United States and abroad that have pledged to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide. The networks principal activity is to arrange academic positions of a limited term for threatened scholars in any discipline and from any country.
Scholars at Risk is thriving, said Quinn. Since its founding in 2000, the network has seen 254 cases of scholars from more than 65 countries and has assisted 34 scholars from 20 countries find temporary positionsincluding positions in the United States, Norway, Australia, France and South Africa.
The network also has formed a partnership with the Institute of International Education to create the Scholar Rescue Fund, which is to be a $10 million endowment that annually supports up to 24 fellowships for threatened scholars.
Together Scholars at Risk and the Scholar Rescue Fund already have generated more than $1 million in aid to threatened scholars, Quinn said.
At invitation-only sessions Tuesday, April 15, network members, potential members, invited guests and rescued scholars will evaluate the networks progress and plan future activities. These sessions will mark the successful completion of the networks founding phase, as members will discuss adopting governing bylaws and elections for a new governing board and executive committee.
Thanks to the founding vision of the University, the support of network member institutions and our growing partnership with IIE, the network has become the worlds leading defender of threatened scholars, Quinn said. The discussions over these two days in April will shape our network for years to come and literally help save lives and save the careers of scholars all over the world.
For more information, visit http://scholarsatrisk.uchicago.edu, or call (773) 834-4659.