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Letter from President Lawrence H. Summers regarding Scholars at Risk

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to bring to your attention a Harvard initiative concerning scholars who face persecution. Last year, in conjunction with the University Committee on Human Rights Studies, I established a one-year visiting fellowship at Harvard to host a scholar who is at risk of persecution. This risk may be related to the scholarís work, but it may also be a consequence of the scholarís ethnicity, religion, or political opinions. The support of American universities for scholars facing persecution because of their beliefs, scholarship, or identities has been critically important at various junctures in world history. The threats to academic freedom today are no less intense.

A faculty committee, co-chaired by the University Committee on Human Rights, has been constituted to choose the Scholar at Risk fellow. Last year two half-year fellows were chosen from a pool of nominees submitted by faculty members–an Ethiopian geographer, sponsored by the Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Studies, and an Iranian legal scholar, sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Scholars from any disciplines represented at Harvard are eligible. The purpose of the fellowship is to enable scholars whose lives have been disrupted to pursue their research interests and to benefit from the scholarly environment that Harvard can provide.

I invite you to submit nominations for the fellowship. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 15, 2003. Nomination forms, as well as details of the Scholars at Risk initiative and the selection committee membership, can be found at Nominations should be submitted to the University Committee on Human Rights Studies, 218 Eliot, Kennedy School of Government, or by email to

We look forward to receiving nominations. If you have any questions about the fellowship that are not answered on the website, please contact Jacqueline Bhabha at 617-384-7743,, or Stephen Greenblatt at 617-495-2101,


Lawrence H. Summers