In many places in the world, academics are unable to conduct research and teaching due to the threat of violence and other reprisals. They may be politically active or threatened in their homelands for other reasons. Scholars at Risk helps them find a safe place to live and work.
Södertörn University is one of the higher education institutions that have chosen to become involved in the fight for academic freedom through membership of SAR. The organisation’s Swedish Section has now been granted funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, RJ.
“This is an organisation that promotes academic freedom. It is important for Södertörn University to participate and support colleagues around the world who are unable to conduct research freely,” says Andreas Åkerlund, advisor to the vice-chancellor for internationalisation and member of SAR-Sweden’s steering group.
The money has been allocated to the organisation centrally and will be spent on the partial funding of fixed-term positions for researchers in the humanities and social sciences. The higher education institution puts in half the money and the remainder comes from the grant.
“Five million kronor is a great deal in this context, so the higher education institutions that are able to offer a position can apply for co-funding from SAR-Sweden. However, we must remember that this is not charity. The researcher who needs support is carefully matched with the higher education institutions that have an available position, so they end up in the right academic context. The researcher should be able to contribute to activities and conduct their research,” says Andreas Åkerlund, and continues, “At SAR, we are extremely grateful for this support from RJ. Unfortunately, there is a limitation in the funding, which is that it may only be used for positions for researchers in the humanities and social sciences. SAR is working hard to obtain co-funding for researchers in other disciplines from other research financiers, but has not yet had any success.”
As a member of Scholars at Risk, Södertörn University employed a visiting researcher for a period. They were affiliated to the university’s Centre for Baltic and East European Studies in 2018. The hope is to again host a visiting researcher in the near future.