Attack on academic freedom will be discussed by world-renowned higher education experts in Vilnius (updated)

European Humanities University (EHU) in Vilnius hosts the roundtable “Academy at Risk: Challenges of the 21st Century”. Among the participants is one of the world’s leading experts in higher education, the President of the American Academy of Sciences and Arts Dr Jonathan Fanton.

Thirteen years after the forcible closure of EHU in Minsk, two outstanding research universities of humanities, social sciences and arts — the Central European University in Budapest and the European University at St. Petersburg — have also been threatened with closure. The actions of the Russian and Hungarian governments, as well as of Belarusian authorities in 2004, encroach on the core of the free academy — independence from ideology and freedom of thought.

Despite the brutal closure of EHU in 2004 in Minsk, the Trans-Atlantic solidarity of the donor countries secured the re-establishment of the Belarusian University-in-Exile. What challenges does the society face when authorities suppress academic freedoms?

The European academic community has experienced repression from the authorities before. In the 1930s a group of German intellectuals was forced to flee Nazi Germany and founded a world-famous research university The New School for Social Research in New York. From 1982 to 1999, the rector of the University was one of the world famous education experts Dr Jonathan Fanton, who now serves as the President of the American Academy of Sciences and Arts.

What causes aggression from repressive regimes? What is the role of critical thinking and independent research of the social tensions that occur in post-totalitarian communities? These questions will be discussed during the roundtable by following panelists:

  • President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Dr. Jonathan F. Fanton;
  • Member of the European Parliament Dr. Laima Liucija Andrikienė;
  • Chair of the Council for At-Risk Academics Mrs. Anne Lonsdale CBE;
  • Chair of the Lithuanian Union of Journalists Dainius Radzevičius;
  • Vice President of the Bard College Susan H. Gillespie;
  • Former President of the Witten/Herdecke University Dr. Konrad Schily.

A roundtable, that is dedicated to the problems of independent operation of universities, will be held on January 26 in the new academic building of EHU. Draft agenda of the event is available online.

As a result of the roundtable, Dr Jonathan Fanton will be awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa degree of EHU.