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Science at Risk

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 2nd 2017

Organized and Moderated by: Viviana Fernandez, Assistant Director, Human Rights Research and Education Centre (University of Ottawa) and Steering Committee member of the Scholars at Risk Canada Section.

Speakers: Fayyaz Baqir, University of McGill; Philip Landon, VP Governance and Programs, Universities Canada; Joyce Pisarello, Senior Program Officer, Membership and Outreach, Scholars at Risk

Takeaways and recommendations: 
  • Canadian academic institutions have long seen themselves as open to global talents and as open and inclusive spaces.

  • Recent international events, particularly in the U.S., have resulted in an increase in faculty and students looking to come to Canada (enrollment in the last year was up 10% for international students).

  • It is important for Canada to continue to act on its commitment to be a sanctuary and safe space for international researchers, especially refugee scholars.

  • The recent Action plan on equity, diversity and inclusion from Universities Canada is a step in the right direction, especially as it includes specific action-based commitments.

  • Three other good examples of Canadian actions are:

    • The globally unique ability of Canadian students to sponsor refugee students;

    • The Universities Canada statement opposing the U.S. travel ban, and

    • The Borderless Higher Education for Refugees project

  • Specific support for refugee scholars should include help with networking in the new community, as well as allowing scholars to restart or resume their work where appropriate, circulating their CV, and ensuring there is support for scholars who wish to return to their home country when the threat is lessened or eliminated.

  • Continued support for organizations like Scholars at Risk is vital.

  • More Canadian academic institutions should join the Scholars at Risk Network. To help enable this, there needs to be more individual champions for the program within institutions. Interested individuals or institutions should contact the SAR Canada Section.

  • Scholars at Risk’s open source project which tracks academic freedom globally needs continuous help from scholars to help with data aggregation.

  • Today’s conflicts are connected to global issues, and as such, the Canadian government and academic institutions should constantly evaluate their role in influencing these issues.

  • They should also consider the impact of these global issues within their own communities (e.g. when people have families or networks in the affected areas).

  • Media has to play the role of world conscious by exercising due diligence.

  • Academia needs to conduct research to separate facts from alt facts.

  • All, including government, need to insist on accountability for violation of constitutional governance norms.

  • Academic freedom and freedom of speech are the bedrocks of Canadian universities. It is important to allow difficult dialogue without encouraging the proliferation of racism and other hateful speech.