Press release: Europe-wide forum on supporting researchers at risk
June 8, 2020: The 2020 Inspireurope Virtual Stakeholder Forum, a Europe-wide virtual gathering of researchers at risk, universities, policymakers, foundations, and employers from the public and private sectors, takes place today in support of researchers who face discrimination, persecution, or violence. The Director General for Higher Education and Employability at the French Ministry of Higher Education, Anne-Sophie Barthez, will open the forum.
Funded under the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Inspireurope is a concerted effort to expand and coordinate a diversity of support measures in Europe for researchers at risk. The 10-partner project is coordinated by Scholars at Risk Europe, based at Maynooth University, Ireland. Today’s forum, originally to be hosted by the French national PAUSE programme at the Collège de France, was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Researchers from diverse disciplines are playing a crucial role in formulating responses to the epidemiological, economic, political, and social dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said French Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal, “It is our shared responsibility to support them to pursue this vital work freely and safely. Now more than ever, states must reject violence, coercion or censorship aimed at restricting inquiry and expression, and reaffirm their commitment to protecting academic freedom.”
Professor Michael Murphy, President of the European University Association (EUA), and a member of Inspireurope’s Advisory Board, will participate in a discussion on academic freedom in today’s forum. “Academic freedom and institutional autonomy are the single most important foundations for any meaningful academic activity,” said Professor Murphy. “The advancement of knowledge, scientific discoveries and technological development that modern societies thrive on are simply not possible without freedom of thought, the freedom to communicate the results of scientific work and the freedom to educate the next generation of critical thinkers.”
Inspireurope begins from the view that excellence in research depends upon open scientific debate, and is driven by a multiplicity of ideas, people and perspectives. When researchers are at risk, and excluded from participating in the global research circuit, whether due to discrimination, persecution, violence, not only are individual lives and careers at risk; the very future of research is also at stake. The skills and attributes of researchers who are at risk represent significant human capital and economic potential for the receiving countries in Europe. Inspireurope is coordinating efforts for such potential to be realised on a Europe-wide scale. Additional speakers at today’s Inspireurope Forum include representatives from the European Commission’s DG GROW and MSCA Unit, researchers who have faced risks to their lives and their work, representatives from the Collège de France, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and more. Registration is free of charge and remains open all day to the public here.