In regions blighted by civil war and conflict, it is often hard to see past the immediacy of violence and the tragic and senseless human cost. Yet what happens to a country when the violence ends and its infrastructure lies in ruins? What will the future hold if those with the capacity to regenerate are not there to take responsibility when the time comes? For countries like Iraq and Syria, the loss of intellectual capital can be truly devastating to their future prosperity. In hostile and tense environments academics are often a key target for oppressive regimes or extremist groups because they promote free speech and thought, and are viewed as a likely source of opposition. They may also work for state-run institutions, and automatically be regarded as supporters of the state by groups that oppose it. It is vital that people with the ability to build capacity in these countries are given support that enables them to continue developing skills and acquiring knowledge, in the hope that one day they may return home and lead efforts to rebuild essential institutions and governance frameworks in the event of peace.
The University of Reading is fully committed to helping those in the academic community who are currently in danger in hostile environments, or who have fled to displacement camps in neighbouring countries. To fulfil this commitment, we have partnered with the Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara), a charity that provides critical support on the ground to academics who are facing extreme danger. They work not only to ensure that they are safe, but also to find them institutions where they can continue to build important careers. The University of Reading is proud to be a delivery partner in the Cara network, and we are currently supporting two Cara fellows who are studying on postgraduate courses. However, we want to help many more.
Your support can expand the range of opportunities at Reading for Cara fellows, and ensure that promising academic careers in hostile regions are fulfilled.
Donor support will be used to fund research incubation visits, which will enable Cara fellows to work at Reading for a month to partner with Reading academics on joint research proposals, before heading away to conduct fieldwork. We also want to welcome Cara fellows as academic visitors, which will enable academics to base themselves at Reading on one-year sabbaticals and continue with their own research projects in a safe environment. Such initiatives will help key academics to remain active during their period in exile and reduce the likelihood of them settling into new lives with different careers away from home.
Reading is also partnering with Cara on its Syria Programme, which is combining an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programme with a series of professional skills workshops that help Syrian refugee academics in Turkish displacement camps transition to life in English speaking institutions. Reading's International Study and Language Institute (ISLI) is a key partner of the initiative and has been heavily involved in shaping and delivering the programme. It has led the delivery of some of the skills workshops in Turkey, provided needs analyses and assessments to determine the language skills of the scholars, and has co-ordinated a group of teachers delivering an online EAP skills course. Reading academics are volunteering their time to help deliver the online EAP course, highlighting the fantastic commitment that is being shown to assisting at-risk academics. Additional donor support will enable ISLI to deliver more workshops and widen the scale of the EAP programme.
A donation will make a vital contribution to the rebuilding process in countries in crisis:
Give today and ensure that displaced academics with the capacity to enforce positive change are ready and waiting to make a difference when it is safe for them to return home.
IMAGINE the possibilities. Together we can make it happen.
Cara's origins date back to 1933 and the rise of Nazism.
The University of Reading is currently supporting 2 Cara fellows who have fled the conflict in Syria. We want to help more vulnerable academics.
Cara has provided vital assistance to academics from 27 countries across the world.
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Universities are living things: they feel, think and do. They are centres of intelligence; they are concerned with ideas; they have outposts upon the frontiers of knowledge; they sometimes do beautiful and remarkable things; they dream and imagine.
W M Childs
First Vice-Chancellor, 1926-29