Scholars at Risk

In 2017 Memorial University joined Scholars at Risk (SAR), a network of more than 400 higher education institutions 139 countries working to protect threatened scholars, prevent attacks on higher education and promote academic freedom.

According to Free to Think, a recent report published by SAR, scholars and students at universities around the world face regular threats as a result of their academic work and free expression of ideas. These threats to higher education communities range from restrictions on travel and unjustified firings to imprisonment and violence.
Watch video:

Scholars at Risk’s work is rooted in the principle of academic freedom- the freedom to pursue scholarship and research without discrimination, censorship, intimidation, or violence. SAR aims to bring scholars facing severe human rights abuses in their home region to positions universities, colleges, and research centers in any safe country. For further information, please visit the SAR website

There is now a 21 member network in Canada of SAR 
SAR in member country “Canada”…View more:

SAR member institutions assist persecuted scholars and students by offering temporary research and teaching positions, monitoring and advocating against attacks on higher education and conducting learning initiatives to promote academic freedom.

How to be involved:
Memorial University’s Scholars at Risk membership will be managed through the Internationalization Office with leadership from committee of representatives from across disciplines and units, with supports from four subcommittees which will focus on: management of employment and placement; communication and event planning; fundraising activities and the arrival and settlement of scholars and their families. For more detail about the subcommittees, please click…

Faculty, staff and students of member institution like Memorial University have the opportunity to engage in a variety of SAR activities including:
• Inviting SAR scholars to share their stories on campus through the SAR Speaker Series:
• Advocating on behalf of imprisoned scholars through Student Advocacy Seminars and SAR’s Action Campaigns 
• Researching attacks on higher education through the Academic Freedom Monitoring Projects: and
• Engaging in growing conversation around university values by attendingSAR workshops and joining working groups 

 Events/News: SAR MUN: Journey so Far

February 6, 2017

Memorial University held an introductory meeting on Scholars at Risk network. The agenda included introductions, what & how to manage SAR at a university-membership, press release/Website, hiring, event planning, fundraising and hosting of the scholar and family- summary from event in Ottawa delivered by Marica. The meeting was concluded by next steps.

March 16, 2017
Note taken from the meeting documented revealed, the attendance; membership and related annual due being managed by the Internationalization Office; launching a press release/development of a web presence; scholar relief fund and names were assigned to each of the subcommittees as listed below:
a. Hiring: Sean Cadigan, Ian McKinnon, reps from MUNFA and LUMUN
b. Communication and event planning: Sonja Knutson, rep from MUNPA, Luke Ashworth(Media spokesperson), Marica Cassis (Middle-Eastern film series) and communication support (Jen Batten)
c. Fundraising: Jennifer O’Neill, MUNFA rep, Sonja Knutson, MUNPA rep
d. Arrival and settlement of scholar and family: Maria Cassis, other faculty and internationalization Office reps.

April 4, 2017
A letter was addressed to MUNPA introducing SAR and an invitation to get involved. According to the content of the letter, the retirees, both faculty and staff, have a breath of experience and skill that can contribute significantly to the initiatives Memorial will undertake in helping Scholars at Risk (See website).

April 5, 2017
Gazette news item was prepared for sharing via Newsline with the headline “Memorial University joins Scholars at Risk Network.” Read the news:

November 29, 2017
A program “Scholar at Risk-Lunch and LearnSpeaking” was held to advance its growth in Memorial University. After a brief introduction about SAR by Sean, Sonja, the director of Internationalization Office gave a snapshot about the present state of SAR at Memorial University, a summary of March 16, 2017 with reference to membership and related annual due being managed by the Internationalization Office; launching a press release/development of a web presence (Sonja did press release- April 6, 2017 Gazette- still need work on web presence); and as a way of getting involved with SAR, the names of those in each subcommittee were mentioned (a sheet was later circulated for those interested in the subcommittees to sign up, some did and the new list has been properly documented) then she introduced Dr. Mehmet Caman, who is a Political Science instructor at MUN and also a threatened scholar, to share with everyone why this work is importance to academic freedom.

To learn more about SAR and to get involved, contact Sonja Knutson, director of the Internationalization Office at

MUN SAR to host a scholar
The scholar is Dr. Eda Erdener, a professor of psychology; she spoke out against the Turkish state. Then she was forced to flee. Read more…..

She gave a public lecture at Cal State San Bernardino on 'women at war.' View pictures and the summary of the public lecture:

FUNDRAISING: Support a SAR Scholar!
The Internationalization Office is working busily to raise money to host its first scholar here at Memorial. The target is $15K to support her.

Give now!

Donations to Scholars at Risk or WUSC can be made in several ways:

Our secure website

By mail
Office of Development
Memorial University
PO Box 4200
St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7

Call in credit card information
(709) 864-4354, toll free 1-877-700-4081

If you wish to donate via payroll, please visit Once you are logged in, select the “Employees” section. From there, navigate to the tab called “Faculty and Staff Giving” you can then complete the donation form.


Internationalization Office

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000