UNICA-SAR Seminar on Academic Freedom


 UNICA - Scholars At Risk Seminar on

Academic Freedom

Freie Universität Berlin, 21-22 March

Conclusions of the Seminar

The Seminar on Academic Freedom, 21-22 March 2013, hosted by Freie Universität Berlin and organised jointly by the UNICA and Scholars At Risk Networks, brought together 34 participants. They represented 10 UNICA member universities, as well as other HE institutions (University of Cologne, European Humanities University, COMAS Israel),organisations such as Magna Charta Observatory, the Scholar Rescue Fund and the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF, Netherlands), and threatened scholars.

The 1,5-day Seminar provided a reflection on and an insight into the notion of academic freedom, its rationale and principles, the concept's history, as well as the state of academic freedom around the world. It showcased hands-on examples of initiatives undertaken by universities, with contributions from UNICA member universities who are individual members of the Scholars At Risk Network.

The following key ideas and messages emerged during the Seminar:

  • Academic freedom as a right and a responsibility towards others;
  • University's duty to engage with unpopular opinions in an academic and scientific way;
  •  The value of freedom in research;
  • The importance of the preservation of academic freedom and critical thinking both in times of crisis and in times of peace
  • Commercial threats to academic freedom: intellectual property deals, restricted sponsorship deals;
  • Multiple faces of threats to academic freedom: threats can enter the academic system without immediately affecting a specific individual.
The participants agreed that being concerned about the state of academic freedom and about manifold examples of academic freedom being violated or limited is not enough. Concrete actions should be undertaken to draw the attention of stakeholders to the issue of academic freedom, to act in order to prevent threats, and to offer a greater and long-standing support to the scholars and students in needs.
Announcement Programme (18 March, final) List of participants Biographies of speakers and chairs Read more...  


Thursday, 21 March, 2013 to Friday, 22 March, 2013
Host Institution: 
Freie Universität Berlin