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Harvard Announces Participation in ‘Scholars at Risk Network’

Harvard Announces Participation in ‘Scholars at Risk Network’CAMBRIDGE, Mass.
Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers announced recently that Harvard University is participating in the “Scholars at Risk Network” and has selected its first two visiting fellows, Dr. Mehrangiz Kar and Dr. Wolde Mesfin, for the academic year 2002-03.
“In the 1930s, certain institutions stepped forward and made strenuous efforts to help at least some of the scholars who were threatened by Nazism. Not only were innocent lives saved, but also the institutions that hosted these refugee scholars were in many cases profoundly enriched, as was the scholarly community at large. Harvard is determined to be one of the leaders in the comparable effort in our own time,” Summers says.
Kar, a distinguished legal scholar from Tehran, Iran, has been offered a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and will come for the spring semester 2003. She will also have an affiliation with the Women’s Studies Program, the Islamic Legal Studies Program and the Center for Middle East Studies. Kar’s work focuses on questions of democracy and constitutional reform in Iran, and on dismantling legal barriers to women’s and children’s rights in particular. Kar has, as a result of this work, been arrested and imprisoned in Iran.
Mesfin has been offered a fellowship at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research in collaboration with the University Committee on Human Rights Studies. He is one of Ethiopia’s leading geographers. His scholarly research led him to conclude that the country’s famine was caused more by political than by natural forces, and that the Ethiopian peasant is in a persistently vulnerable state because of poor governance. As a result of his work he has been threatened and harassed. A year ago he was arrested and imprisoned for addressing a meeting on academic freedom.
“The Du Bois Institute is absolutely delighted to participate in the Scholars at Risk Network,” says institute director Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
The “Scholars at Risk Network” was founded at the University of Chicago three years ago by Jacqueline Bhabha, who is now the executive director of Harvard’s University Committee on Human Rights Studies and a lecturer at Harvard Law School.
The network’s purpose is to promote academic freedom and to defend the human rights of scholars worldwide.
Its principle activity is to identify scholars who are unable to work in their home region because of displacement, discrimination, censorship, harassment, or violence or threats of violence and to provide these scholars academic positions at universities and colleges across the United States.

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