COVID-19, Academic Freedom and Human Rights Research Project

This co-curricular opportunity is a collaboration between Scholars at Risk (SAR), UBC SAR chapter and the UBC Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE).  This opportunity is a remote academic freedom monitoring project led by students (supported by the collaborators above), who will research on 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). 

Students will work together to identify the most urgent regions experiencing censure by state and/or non-state actors due to COVID-19 globally, and then present their case to stakeholders to bring attention and relief for these individuals. 

This work falls in line with SAR activities and is shaping up to be covered in the annual report “Free to Think”.  Students in this program will build on work that is included in the report and may have the opportunity to collaborate with other students across North America to raise awareness of events in the report in addition to continued research.  

Students’ work will be supported through training opportunities organized by UBC SAR/ORICE which will include human rights monitoring and advocacy discussions and training.


  • Brief of research conducted and presentation to SAR staff
  • Presentation/advocacy to Canadian government and non-governmental representatives
  • Organizing a public engagement event/activity raising awareness of COVID-19 threats to academic freedom
  • Opportunity to present at SAR Student Advocacy Days (virtual) in March 2021.

Project dates: October 1, 2020 – December 4, 2020

What to expect:

Over a period of 8 weeks in October and November 2020, teams of 2-4 students will spend 4-6 hours each week to work collaboratively towards understanding and answering questions posed above about the intersection of COVID-19 and the protection of academic freedom.  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.  Earlier in the program training opportunities will be provided to support the process of academic freedom monitoring.  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 September 1st, 2020. (Recent grads are welcome to apply but priority will be given to current undergraduate students);
  • Undergraduate students not meeting 60 credits or outside 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 an asset, but not necessary
  • Able to work within Pacific Daylight Time Zone (PDT)


  • Successful short-listed candidates contacted by: September 23, 2020
  • Short interviews: September 24-28, 2020
  • Offers sent by: September 29, 2020
  • Project dates: October 1, 2020 – December 4, 2020

How to apply

Thank you for your interest. We are no longer accepting applications.

The deadline is September 20, 2020 @ 11.59pm PST. 

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