In the past two years, over 100 Syrian scholars have applied to the International Institute of Education (IIE)’s Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF), which provides fellowships abroad to faculty who are threatened in their home countries, –about ten times more than applied between 2002 and 2011 –. according to an October 14, 2013 article in the publication Nature, “We Must Preserve Syria’s Scientific Assets“.
Syrian neuropharmacologist Amal Alachkar, an IIE-SRF fellow at the University of California, Irvine, talked to Nature about her experiences. An expert on the neurological causes of schizophrenia and depression, Alachkar founded the first neuroscience research lab in Syria, which opened at the University of Aleppo in 2010. But she fled the country in 2011, out of fear of retaliation for her critical position towards the government.
After condemning a massacre of students in March 2011, Alchkar was interrogated by the Syrian Air Force, she told Nature. She was released, but the warning was clear: never do it again, because next time it won’t be like this. Only three months later, philosophy professor Jamal Tahhan was arrested for his peaceful protests and tortured. Many other detentions, tortures and killings of scholars followed.
Over the past year, IIE has also created a new mechanism to help Syrian students — the Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis. Nearly 70 Syrian students will be arriving on US campuses this Fall on Consortium scholarships. The exodus of scientists out of Syria as a result of war was the topic of an event organized by IIE in New York on October 7, 2013. at The New School in New York City. The link to the video of the conference, below, includes some innovative ideas for keeping science and learning alive for Syrian university students in refugee camps. http://www.iie.org/Programs/Scholar-Rescue-Fund
With the goal of saving the future leadership of Syria, IIE is eager to partner with public and private organizations to implement larger scale assistance. To contribute to these programs or to host a scholar: Contact SRF Director, Jim Miller firstname.lastname@example.org; for inquires about joining the Syria Consortium and aiding students, contact IIE Vice President, Daniela Kaisth Kaisth@iie.org
- IIE and Partners Join with Global Platform to Expand Emergency Assistance for Syrian Students Around the World (virtual-strategy.com)