Scholars At Risk & Human Rights Collective: Academic Freedom and Human Rights Research Engagementship


This co-curricular opportunity is a collaboration between Scholars at Risk (SAR), SAR’s Canada Section (SAR-CAN), the UBC SAR & HRC, and the UBC Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE). Students will engage in human rights reporting and analysis that will further our understanding of threats to academic freedom in Canada and the policies in place to protect it.  Student research conducted on the current climate in Canada will also be of use to the wider SAR Network and other organizations which take a rights-based approach to protect the life and liberty of scholars around the world.

Go, Houston, Kim, Liu, Mendoza, Phuong, Roger, and Soebroto completed a comparative analysis of 23 university institutions across Canada, which are all members of SAR Canada. Their report and presentation are published here

About the Scholars At Risk & Human Rights (SAR&HR) Collective:

The Scholars At Risk and Human Rights Collective at UBC supports Scholars at Risk (SAR)’s international initiative for advocacy, protection, and learning towards academic freedom and respect for scholars’ human rights. SAR&HR Collective spans across the three arms of SAR’s work – protection, learning, and advocacy. We focus primarily on the learning and advocacy arms of the Scholars at Risk mandate and complement the protection work carried out under the VP International.

Led by Dr. Jenny Peterson, the experiential human rights research project started as the PURE-Funded project (2019-2022) and we are now working to consolidate and expand our programming in ways that support and engage with other human rights-focused learning opportunities at UBC. The project is supported by the Office of the Dean of Arts, Office of the Vice Provost International, the Scholars at Risk Network, and the Office of Regional and International Community Engagement (ORICE).


  • A gathering of policies related to the protection of Academic Freedom across the higher education sector in Canada
  • Comparative analysis of policies with the aim of providing a summary of key questions and dilemmas impacting the ability to move towards a rights-based approach to Academic Freedom in Canada and globally
  • Analysis of key Canadian cases where the safety and security of the scholarly community was at risk to help illustrate the tangible impacts and need for the above policies (or improvements to them)
  • Written brief of the research conducted and a presentation to interested stakeholders such as UBC Faculty and Administration, UBC’s SAR-HRC,  SAR (Global), and SAR Canada staff
  • Presentation/advocacy to the Canadian government and non-governmental representatives where appropriate
  • Raising awareness of some of the threats to academic freedom locally, nationally, and internationally

Project dates:

Week of September 13, 2021, to December 7, 2021

What to expect:

Over a period of 12 weeks from September to December 2021, teams of students will spend 4-6 hours each week to work collaboratively towards understanding and how the Canadian Higher Education sector is responding to threats to Academic Freedom in Canada and how such policies might inform the rights-based approach taken by global SAR Network and the work of SAR-Canada. Students will be asked to participate in weekly scheduled calls or meetings 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 or meetings though some may fall outside of regularly scheduled times. Depending on COVID restrictions and accessibility requirements of the team, some meetings may also occur in person or take an online/hybrid format.

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 May 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 meetings remotely if online meetings are required.
  • 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) in cases where virtual meetings are required.

Anti-Racism and Ethics of Engagement:

Scholars At Risk & Human Rights Collective and the Office for Regional and International Community Engagement (UBC ORICE) are committed to embedding anti-racism in our daily work and ongoing projects. Students are encouraged and expected to consider how they can take an anti-racist lens to the work they produce around citizen science, data collection and use, and connections between community-based organizations, academics, and government. This might include, but is not limited to, ensuring the incorporation of the ongoing and often unrecognized work of organizations advocating for justice for minorities, particularly during the pandemic; or engaging with the politics of citation in including and citing the work of non-white scholars and other researchers. 


  • Deadline: August 22, 2021 @ 11.59pm PST
  • Successful shortlisted candidates contacted by: August 27, 2021
  • Short interviews by: week of Aug 30th
  • Project dates: Week of September 13, 2021 to December 7, 2021

How to apply:

Thank you for your interest. The recruitment for this program has now closed.

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



The Scholars At Risk & Human Rights Collective acknowledges that we organize, research, and learn on unceded traditional  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory.