Harvard's "Scholars at Risk" Initiative

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On Monday, October 20, Drew Faust, the President of Harvard University, circulated the following letter:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to bring your attention to a Harvard initiative concerning scholars who face persecution.  Seven years ago, the President’s Office, in conjunction with the University Committee on Human Rights Studies, established a one-year visiting fellowship at Harvard to host a scholar who is at risk of persecution.  Since then, the program has grown and now can accommodate up to six scholars a year who are at risk. This risk may be related to the scholar’s work, but it may also be a consequence of the scholar’s ethnicity, religion, or political opinions.  The support of American universities for scholars facing persecution because of their beliefs, scholarship, or identities has always been critically important, and threats to academic freedom today are no less intense.

A faculty committee has been constituted to choose the Scholar at Risk fellows.  Past fellows chosen from a pool of nominees submitted by faculty members include an Iranian lawyer, a Sri Lankan mathematician, a Palestinian physicist, a Turkish psychiatrist, a Rwandan human rights scholar, and the former Minister of Higher Education in Iraq.  This year we are pleased to welcome two contemporary novelists – one from Iran and one from Iraq, a composer from Central Asia, an engineer from Sri Lanka, a democracy advocate from Syria, a women’s poetry scholar from Iraq and a librarian from Iraq.  Scholars from any discipline represented at Harvard are eligible.  The purpose of the fellowship is to enable scholars whose lives have been disrupted to pursue their research interests and to benefit from the scholarly environment that Harvard can provide.

I invite you to submit nominations for the fellowship.  The deadline for submissions is Friday November 14, 2008.  Nomination forms, as well as details of the Scholars at Risk initiative and the selection committee membership, can be found at www.humanrights.harvard.edu. Nominations should be submitted to the University Committee on Human Rights Studies, 14 Story Street, Rm. 416, or by e-mail to [email protected].

We look forward to receiving nominations.  If you have any questions about the fellowship that are not answered on the website, please contact Lauren Herman (617-384-5011), [email protected], or Committee Co-chairs Director Jacqueline Bhabha or Professor Stephen Greenblatt.


Drew Faust


One Response

  1. Elizabeth Hughes

    October 23, 2008 4:39 am

    A pity it will become increasingly difficult, owing to the regime not permitting Baha’is to attend university, for Baha’is from Iran to qualify.


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