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Supporting Scholars Under Threat

Since 2016 Global Cornell has led campus and community support for international scholars, students, and human rights defenders whose work puts them at risk in their home countries.

Molina sitting on the floor and sketching, surrounded by his illustrations.
Nicaraguan cartoonist Pedro X. Molina continues to produce cartoons for Confidencial and other publications while giving workshops and lectures at Cornell.

“By partnering with international scholar rescue organizations and local and campus partners, Global Cornell can provide visitors with a safe refuge and welcoming community, professional and educational opportunities, and resources to gain their footing and look ahead.”

~Wendy Wolford, Vice Provost of International Affairs

Facebook post with image a masked woman sitting at a library reference desk.

Global Cornell works closely with the International Institute of Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) to provide sanctuary for scholars at risk of persecution in their home countries. Cornell offers these scholars the opportunity to continue their research and teaching in a welcoming, safe, and supportive scholarly community as they pursue a more permanent situation for themselves and their families. We also work with IIE's Artist Protection Fund (IIE-APF) to offer refuge for threatened artists.

Thomas A. Russo, JD/MBA ’69, helped found IIE-SRF in 2002. Since then, the fund has worked to arrange temporary appointments for more than 700 scholars at over 370 institutions. Cornell first connected with IIE-SRF in 2004, when the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences supported a plant breeder fleeing political violence in Côte D’Ivoire.

Since 2016, the Scholars Under Threat initiative at Cornell has brought students and scholars to campus, including undergraduate and graduate students, academics, writers, journalists, and artists from seven countries.

Cornell's global and local partner organizations include: 

Broad-Reaching Campus Involvement

Part of Global Cornell

The Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and its regional and thematic programs host the visitors during their time at Cornell, often in collaboration with academic departments. Einaudi provides a campus home with a welcoming intellectual community, collaborators and connections, and opportunities to build a sustainable career in the United States.

Scholars currently hosted by the Einaudi Center:

  • The Southeast Asia Program is sponsoring a photographer and an opposition politician from Myanmar who fled after the military coup in February 2021.
  • The South Asia Program is hosting an IIE-SRF fellow who escaped Afghanistan with his family in August 2021.
  • The Institute of European Studies is currently home to a Russian dissident writer and an Afghan academic who feared that he would be a target because of his research, criticism of the Taliban, and identification as a Hazara. 

“One of the Einaudi Center’s core global research priorities is democratic threats and resilience. Integrating scholars into our community who are persecuted because of what they study—or who they are—is an act of democratic resilience that fosters intellectual pluralism at home and abroad.”

~Rachel Beatty Riedl, Director, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies

Campus Partners

Cornell Information Technology | Cornell Library | Cornell University Police | Department Faculty | English Language Support Office | John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines | Learning Strategy Center | Office of Spirituality and Meaning Making | Office of General Counsel | Office of Undergraduate Admissions | Student Campus Life | University Student Services Leaders

Scholars and Students in the News

How to Get Help

Global Cornell's dedicated team working to support scholars and students under threat includes faculty and staff from the Einaudi Center, Office of Global Learning, academic departments, and campus support units.

For scholars, a placement at Cornell provides an opportunity to engage in an intellectual and supportive community, collaborate on research, and teach students. For students, we offer access to higher education that is not available in the situations from which they are fleeing. 

“Lifting up one student will eventually lift up a family and a community. Cornell is doing what it can to help students find a pathway to a degree and a successful career. Similarly, scholars find a welcoming academic community and opportunities to teach and learn with breathing room to burnish a resume and seek longer-term employment and a secure future.”

~Nishi Dhupa, Associate Vice Provost of International Affairs

Cornell faculty seeking to host scholars under threat:

We regularly review the list of IIE-SRF fellows. A faculty review committee makes selections based on academic credentials and hosting opportunities at Cornell.

We are interested in learning about scholars under threat with links to Cornell faculty. We encourage those scholars to seek fellowships through IIE to obtain funding, evacuation, and visa support. If academic departments can host these IIE-SRF scholars, providing teaching and research opportunities, a living stipend, and assistance with integration into the community, the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs can provide supplemental funding and advice. 

To learn more about the criteria used to determine placements at Cornell, please contact Nishi Dhupa.

International scholars under threat:

If you are a scholar who faces threats to your life or career in your home country, IIE-SRF can help you find a year-long fellowship at an institution of higher education. Cornell routinely hosts IIE-SRF scholars, and this is the first step in the path to coming to Cornell or other U.S. institutions. 

Learn about IIE-SRF eligibility criteria

If you have faculty connections at Cornell, please get in touch with them as well—faculty collaborators may be able to assist through their contacts or with an opportunity for a fellowship at Cornell.

Support Us

The journey for displaced and threatened scholars and students may begin at home but continues at Cornell.

Most of our scholars under threat will never be able to return home. Scholars may require assistance with developing research collaborations and outputs, adapting to new teaching modalities, and looking ahead to secure careers in the U.S., along with assistance with housing, clothing, and schooling for their families. 

Students often need tuition assistance as well as help with English language learning and academic writing, study skills, cultural support, housing, clothing, learning to drive, navigating banking and benefits systems, counseling and health services, and more. 

Cornell's Scholar Under Threat initiative is primarily funded by the generosity of donors and the partnership of campus support services and academic departments. To support our efforts please give a gift today or contact Director of Development Christian Shaffmaster, by email or phone at +1-607-255-3461.