Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College

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Protecting academic freedom

Wheaton joins international network advocating for scholars at risk

Wheaton has joined an international network of higher education institutions working to protect threatened scholars, prevent attacks on higher education and promote academic freedom.

The college is now a member of Scholars at Risk, an organization that includes more than 400 institutions in 39 countries.

“Our membership in the Scholars at Risk network reflects our commitment to academic freedom and to social justice,” Provost and Academic Vice President Renee White said. “The global nature of this association also fits with Wheaton’s global reach. We are an international institution. We draw students to our campus from around the world, and our students work and learn across the globe.”

The threats to individuals and higher education communities range from restrictions on travel and unjustified firings to imprisonment and violence. The most recent report by Scholars at Risk documents 158 reported attacks in 35 countries between May 1, 2015 and September, 2016.

In response to these threats, Scholars at Work finds temporary positions for scholars who face grave risks in their home country, operates a speaker series that brings visiting lecturers to member campuses. In addition, faculty and students at member institutions contribute to the network’s efforts to monitor and document threats to academic freedom around the world, and they conduct research and advocacy campaigns.

Provost White said that she will work with faculty to identify the best ways for Wheaton to contribute to the network, including potential participation by professors and students in advocacy projects and research efforts.

“This is another opportunity for our community to have an impact on the world,” she said.

Scholars at Risk began at the University of Chicago in 1999, and its network was launched in 2000 with an international conference. The organization has been honored with a number of awards including the annual human rights prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Other Massachusetts institutions that participate in the network include Boston College, Boston University, Clark University, Harvard University, Tufts University and Wellesley College.