European Humanities University (EHU) and Scholars at Risk (SAR) host SAR 2024 Global Congress focused on academic freedom-related issues worldwide

The European Humanities University (EHU), in collaboration with Scholars at Risk (SAR), will welcome scholars, advocates, students, professionals worldwide to discuss issues related to academic freedom at the Scholars at Risk 2024 Global Congress. Scheduled from June 25th to 27th, 2024 in Vilnius, Lithuania at EHU, this Congress stands as SAR’s flagship event. Highlights include a keynote speech by Dr. Ian Bickford, President of American University of Afghanistan, video remarks from Oleksandra Matviichuk, Head of the Centre for Civil Liberties, Ukraine (winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize), and a presentation of SAR’s ‘Courage to Think Award,’ which recognizes individuals, groups or institutions that have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom, often in the face of personal risk.


Under the theme “Sustainable knowledge: Lessons from universities, scholars, and students in exile,” the 2024 Global Congress will explore the experience of academic communities confronted with exile due to political turmoil, repression, disasters, and conflicts. From Belarus to Myanmar, Afghanistan to Ukraine, Turkey to Sudan, Nicaragua to Israel / Palestine, and beyond, the Congress program will use exhibits, film screenings, plenaries, and panel discussions to explore effective means of supporting at-risk scholars and students in securing safety, reclaiming their academic roles, and contributing to resilient higher education communities and societies. This theme carries particular resonance at EHU, a university in exile due to political pressure from the Belarusian government. EHU-related programming will include a panel on lessons from the founding of the university, and an exhibit titled “An Impossible Dream” chronicling EHU’s closure in Minsk, Belarus and relocation in exile to Vilnius, Lithuania from 2004-2006.


Scholars at Risk will present its “Courage to Think Award” to the ‘scholars of Ukraine’, recognizing their “courage, resilience, and unwavering commitment to their teaching, research, students, and higher education institutions, despite the existential threat posed by war.” The award will be presented at the Courage to Think Award Dinner on the evening of Wednesday, June 26th at EHU.

According to Ukrainian government data, at least 59 universities have been damaged, and nine completely destroyed in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s shelling of civilian infrastructure in 2022-2024. Yet scholarly responsibilities have increased after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, with the scholars of Ukraine playing a crucial role in shaping public engagement and discourse in the country and abroad. Researchers have advocated for remote fellowships for Ukrainian scholars unable to find safe refuge abroad, collected data about damage to research infrastructure, and connected fellow scholars with assistance programs. Other activities include publishing special issues about Russia’s war on Ukraine in internationally renowned academic journals, fostering public engagement efforts through webinars and podcasts, attending conferences in Europe and North America, and advocating for universities to support Ukrainian students and scholars.

The award will be received by a representative of Mariupol State University (MSU), symbolically representing all of the scholars of Ukraine, inside and outside of the country, who are working to maintain Ukraine’s higher education teaching and research sector. MSU has been operating from Kyiv since the destruction and fall of the city of Mariupol in February 2022, after having been displaced previously by the first Russian invasion in 2014.


The 2024 Global Congress is co-hosted and sponsored by Scholars at Risk, European Humanities University, and Vilnius Municipality.

Additional support for the Congress, pre-meetings, and related SAR projects and activities is provided by the Mellon Foundation, Charina Endowment Fund, Charles Koch Foundation, European Union, Freedom House, Fritt Ord Foundation, Gerda Henkel Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, National Endowment for Democracy, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, New York University, Open Society Foundations, Vivian G. Prins Foundation, Wiley Impact Fund, and Winston Foundation.

About European Humanities University (EHU)

European Humanities University is a distinguished private, non-profit university situated in Vilnius, Lithuania. EHU boasts a legacy of supporting approximately 85 scholars at risk and providing academic sanctuary for many politically persecuted students and faculty.

About Scholars at Risk (SAR)

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a globally renowned network of 650+ institutions across 40+ countries dedicated to safeguarding scholars and championing academic freedom. SAR extends temporary academic positions and other forms of support to scholars confronting severe threats to their lives, liberty, and well-being.

Historical Background:

Founded in 1992 in Minsk, Belarus, European Humanities University was initially established to provide a haven for free thought and academic inquiry in the post-Soviet era. However, in 2004, due to political pressure from the Belarusian government, EHU was forced into exile and subsequently relocated to Vilnius, Lithuania, where it continues to thrive as a beacon of academic freedom. Over the years, EHU has supported approximately 85 scholars at risk and provided academic sanctuary for politically persecuted students and faculty, embodying its commitment to upholding intellectual liberty in the face of adversity.

Scholars at Risk (SAR), founded in 2000 and based at New York University, emerged from the recognition of the increasing threats to scholars worldwide. It is a global movement to protect academic freedom and to support those who face attacks for sharing ideas and asking questions. SAR’s international membership network offers direct assistance to threatened scholars, advocates against attacks on higher education communities, and promotes academic freedom.


Registration and program information for in-person participation is available on the SAR website. Some sessions will be live broadcast via Zoom. Registration and program information for remote participation is also available on the SAR website.


Please direct media inquiries, requests for press attendance at the conference, or requests for comment to



Attendees at the 2018 SAR Global Congress in Berlin, Germany.