I am writing to bring your attention to a Harvard initiative concerning scholars who face persecution. Eight years ago, the President's Office, in conjunction with the University Committee on Human Rights Studies, established a one-year visiting fellowship at Harvard to host a scholar who is at risk of persecution. This risk may be related to the scholar's work, but it may also be a consequence of the scholar's ethnicity, religion, or political opinions. The support of American universities for scholars facing the risk of persecution because of their beliefs, scholarship, or identities has always been critically important, and threats to academic freedom today are no less intense.
A faculty committee has been constituted to choose the Scholar at Risk fellows. Among the remarkable past fellows, chosen from a pool of nominees submitted by Harvard community members, were an Iranian lawyer, a Sri Lankan mathematician, a Palestinian physicist, a Turkish psychiatrist, a Rwandan human rights scholar, and an Uzbek composer. Last year we welcomed an engineer from Iraq, a physician from Iran, a legal scholar from Africa, a journalist from Pakistan, a historian from Honduras, and a writer and physician from Burma, and in the current year we are pleased to host a senior former diplomat and political scientist from Kyrgyzstan. Scholars from any discipline represented at Harvard are eligible. The purpose of the fellowship is to enable scholars whose lives have been disrupted to pursue their research interests and to benefit from the scholarly environment that Harvard can provide.
I invite you to submit nominations for the fellowship. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, November 9, 2010. The nomination form and details of the Scholars at Risk initiative and selection committee membership can be found at www.humanrights.harvard.edu.