On January 20, Pomona College will host academic scholars from across the Western United States for the one-day congress of Scholars at Risk (SAR) to discuss best practices for supporting threatened and displaced scholars. SAR protects researchers and professors suffering serious threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by placing them in semester or year-long positions in higher education institutions throughout the world. The meeting will take place at Pomona’s Hahn Building Room 101 starting at 10 a.m. 

In light of recent political crises in Syria and Turkey, scholars and their supporters will discuss their approach and response to the high numbers of applications from these countries, as well as opportunities for involvement and cooperation for colleges and universities in the western U.S.

"Academic freedom is under attack in the Middle East and around the world in unprecedented ways," says Pardis Mahdavi, Pomona College associate professor of anthropology, and Scholars at Risk USA committee member. "And while it is important to look at attacks on higher education around the world, it is also important to highlight ways in which academic freedom has become weaponized and is under attack here in the U.S.," adds Mahdavi. 

"I think it is crucial to reflect on how academic freedom has been erroneously pitted against diversity and how this oppositional binary has turned academic freedom into a symbol of danger itself," says Mahdavi. "The Scholars at Risk-USA Congress gives us opportunities to think about what happens to this dichotomous debate – as it has been framed in the U.S. - when we talk about academic freedom in places like the Middle East." 

As part of the Scholars at Risk program, Pomona College is hosting Turkey’s Eda Erdener, a visiting scholar in the department of anthropology and former associate professor of psychology in Bingöl University. Erdener will attend the meeting and can discuss the academic rights violations and freedom of speech in Turkey.

Pomona College’s Pacific Basin Institute sponsors and organizes the Scholars at Risk program on campus and Erdener is the first academic to be hosted at Pomona.

The one-day congress will conclude with the public event “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge for Our Time,” by former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk Geoffrey Stone at 4:30 p.m. at Bridges Hall of Music.