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Supporting At-Risk and Refugee Scholars in our Research Institutions and Communities

Author:

Dorothy J. Phillips, Coalition Steering Committee member and Coalition Council representative for the American Chemical Society

 

Notes:

  • Presenters
    • Teresa Stoepler, Moderator
    • Uzeyir Orgurlu, Lecturer, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, originally from Turkey
  • Summary of Program
    • Global Young Academy (GYA) at-risk scholar initiative was designed to support exceptional scholars referred from Scholars at Risk. An at-risk scholar is defined as a member of the research community displaced from home due to threat or violence. Professional development workshops are carried out by 30 GYA mentors, who are volunteers. There is a need for more mentors.
  • Uzeyir Orgurlu’s Story
    • Dr. Orgurlu was a professor in Turkey at the time of the failed coup in 2016. He came to the United States to receive an award. However, he was not allowed to return home; his passport was destroyed. His wife and daughter attempted to join him in the United States, but their passports were also destroyed. His siblings and colleagues were afraid to talk to him for fear of losing their positions. His feeling was one of loss; at 40 years old he had to start from less than zero; the life that he had built was destroyed or just gone. He gave some stats on action by Turkey since the failed coup including 6000 academic jobs lost with arrests continuing today.
    • Realizing that he had to work to survive he took a part time job prior to discovering by chance Scholars at Risk at Harvard University. This was a significant turning point. He received help with all facets of his life not just a position in a university. Among the areas that he felt important to have received assistance were adjustment to the new setting, language skills and vital information, such as doctors. In addition, he found it beneficial to network or get to know other scholars-at-risk or refugee scholars.
  • Breakout Sessions Discussions
    • Challenges for placing at-risk or refugee scientists:
      • Lack of awareness about displaced scientists
      • Lack of acceptance by some higher administration or deans-complexity
      • Funding that is a 50-50 relationship with human rights organization and academy
      • Hiring practices in universities
      • Bureaucracy
      • Need to show value of person to the university
    • Mentorship takeaways and good practices:
      • Prepare mentors for mentoring- Scholars-at-Risk willing to share lessons learned.
      • Mentoring can be very rewarding and successful.
      • Set expectations.
      • Skype or other communication tools to stay in contact to mentor and answer questions.

 

Tags:

  • International
  • Universities
  • Rights of Scholars

 

Key Points/Takeaways:

  • Possible Coalition action items
    • Address the universities response or challenges for placing or accepting at-risk or refugee scholars
    • How can the associations or members of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition help with the placement?

 

Additional Resources: