Around the world, scholars have long suffered harassment, torture and persecution as a result of their work. In the worst cases, scholars pay with their lives for their dedication to scholarship and freedom of thought. The Institute of International Education (IIE), an independent nonprofit, has participated in the rescue of persecuted scholars since its founding in 1919. In 2002, IIE launched the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) as a formalized response to this ongoing international dilemma.
The Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at universities, colleges and research centers anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work in safety and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues and the community. During the fellowship, conditions in a scholar’s home country may improve, permitting safe return to help rebuild universities and societies afflicted by fear, conflict and repression. If safe return is not possible, the scholar may use the fellowship period to identify a longer-term opportunity.
In response to one of the greatest academic crises of our time, the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund launched the Iraq Scholar Rescue Project. This project has assisted more than 250 of Iraq’s most senior and threatened academics in a wide range of academic disciplines – through temporary academic positions at universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning in the Middle East and North African regions. (Some exceptions may be considered for university positions in other world regions.) In doing so, the Scholar Rescue Fund hopes to contribute to the preservation of Iraq’s vital intellectual capital and ensure that, when conditions permit, these scholars will be able to return home to rebuild their once flourishing academic communities.