Report Calls Attention to Attacks on Freedom to Think
June 23, 2015
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University, as a founding member of the Scholars
at Risk Network, is among institutions calling attention to the release of
Free to Think,
a new report indicating that scholars, students and other members of higher education
communities around the world regularly suffer violent and coercive attacks.
▷ See coverage from
Inside Higher Ed.
The report, released on Tuesday, June 23, represents over four years of monitoring
and analysis by Scholars at Risk staff and researchers around the world in the Academic Freedom Monitoring Project.
“Attacks on universities and colleges are occurring with alarming frequency,” says
Robert Quinn, executive director of Scholars at Risk. “They threaten the safety and
well-being of scholars, students, administrators and staff; undermine the quality
and accessibility of academic work and instruction, which denies everyone the benefits
of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress; and shrink the space where
people can freely think and ask questions about complex and contentious issues.”
The report analyzes 333 attacks on higher education arising from 247 verified incidents
in 65 countries between January 2011 and May 2015. The types of attacks include killings,
violence and disappearances; false imprisonment and wrongful prosecution; loss of
position and expulsion from study; restrictions on travel; and other attacks that
significantly impair higher education.
“These types of attacks encompass the vast majority of violent or coercive conduct
aimed at higher education communities today,” says Jesse Levine, advocacy officer
and manager of the Monitoring Project.
Free to Think demonstrates the pressing need to raise awareness and document attacks on higher
- There is a crisis of attacks on higher education communities around the world.
- Attacks on universities, scholars and students are early warning signs of political,
social and cultural insecurity.
- Universities and scholars are critical parts of national infrastructure that is essential
to rebuilding conflict torn states.
The report calls on all stakeholders, including the international community, states,
the higher education sector, civil society and the public at large to undertake concrete
actions to increase protection for higher education communities, including documenting
and investigating attacks, and holding perpetrators accountable.
“We hope this report will inspire everyone to do more to protect higher education
and the freedom to think,” says Mr. Quinn.
Media inquiries should be made to Daniel Munier at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 992-9933.
About Scholars at Risk: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of more than 360 higher education
institutions in 38 countries working to protect threatened scholars, promote academic
freedom and prevent attacks on higher education communities around the world since
2000. SAR protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being
by arranging positions of sanctuary for those forced to flee, and advocating for scholars
facing prosecution, imprisonment or other restrictions through the Scholars-in-Prison
Project. SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project identifies and reports attacks
on higher education to protect vulnerable scholars and students, hold perpetrators
accountable and prevent future violations. Institutions or individuals interested
in participating in network activities should visit www.scholarsatrisk.org or email email@example.com.