COVID-19, Academic Freedom and Human Rights Research Project (Cohort #2)


This co-curricular opportunity is a collaboration between Scholars at Risk (SAR), the UBC SAR chapter and the UBC Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE).  This opportunity is a remote human rights advocacy and monitoring project led by students. This project has been examining global instances of scholars facing professional retaliation for their academic or other expression related to COVID-19 (i.e. scholars losing their jobs or being prosecuted as a result of speaking out about the pandemic) and are identifying trends and cases of censure by state and/or non-state actors due to COVID-19 globally.

Phase II of this project falls in line with SAR activities and will include the continuation of research conducted thus far by the current fall cohort. In addition to continued research, a greater focus for students in the Winter 2021 cohort will be the opportunity to engage in and organize public engagement events, participate in advocacy activities and collaborate with SAR student groups across North America. 

Students’ work will be supported through training opportunities organized by UBC SAR & ORICE which will cover human rights & media monitoring, public engagement training, petition writing and navigating advocacy to the Canadian government. 


  • A written brief of the research conducted and a presentation to SAR staff
  • Presentation/advocacy to the Canadian government and non-governmental representatives
  • Organizing a public engagement event/activity that seeks to raise awareness of some of the threats to academic freedom propagated by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • An opportunity to present at the SAR Student Advocacy Days (virtual) event in March 2021

Project dates: January 12th, 2020 – April 2nd, 2020

What to expect:

Over a period of 12 weeks from January to April 2021, teams of 2-4 students will spend 4-6 hours each week to work collaboratively towards understanding and answering the questions posed above about the intersection of COVID-19 and the protection of academic freedom, and engaging others through awareness and advocacy efforts.  Students will be asked to participate in weekly scheduled calls to ensure collaboration and accountability goals are defined and met. However, much of the allotted time will be self-directed as per agreements with teammates.   Where possible, these sessions will be embedded in weekly calls though some may fall outside of regularly scheduled times.

Academic integration:

Please note this is a not-for-credit, unpaid research opportunity. If you are interested in making this a student-directed study course, please contact to discuss the possibility of this option.


  • Be an undergraduate student (domestic or international) in the Faculty of Arts at UBC with 60 or more completed credits as of January 1st, 2021. 
  • Undergraduate students not meeting 60 credits or outside of the Faculty of Arts, as well as graduate students, can apply but preference will be given to undergraduate Arts students with 60+ credits.
  • Have access to a reliable internet connection and computer to collaborate with peers and attend all meetings remotely.
  • Demonstrate the ability to think critically and creatively and be willing to take responsibility and initiative to meet project deliverables.
  • Prior knowledge about academic freedom or human rights monitoring initiatives is an asset, but not necessary
  • Able to work within Pacific Time Zone (PST)


  • Deadline: November 29, 2020 @ 11.59pm PST
  • Successful candidates contacted by: Dec 2, 2020
  • Short interviews: Dec 3rd & 4th, 2020
  • Project dates: January 12th – April 2nd, 2021

How to apply

All positions for this engagementship have been filled. Follow us on social media (@ubc_orice) to find out about future program offerings!

Please reach out to us at if you have any questions.