Published: 07-09-2023 16:18 | Updated: 07-09-2023 16:44

Protecting researchers and academic freedom

Illustration: GettyImages.

Since 2015, Karolinska Institutet has been a member of Scholars at Risk, a network that offers protection for researchers whose lives are in serious danger. Thanks to a request granted by KI and a donation by the Olle Engkvist Foundation, a researcher from Afghanistan has been given a position at KI.

Rektor Annika Östman Wernerson
Annika Östman Wernerson. Photo: Martin Stenmark

“Academic freedom is one of the cornerstones of our university,” says KI president Annika Östman Wernerson. “This is why it’s important for KI to be a member of Scholars at Risk, so that we can be an active partner in the safeguarding of academic freedom around the world. There are far too many examples of how academic freedom cannot be taken for granted, such as the imprisonment in Iran of researcher Ahmadreza Djalali.”

For the academic community, initiatives and networks like Scholars at Risk are a highly potent means of promoting academic freedom. For the individual researcher, they can be absolutely pivotal to his or her ability to continue working and researching – and can spell the difference between life and death.

Conducting research safely

The researcher from Afghanistan, who was able to take up a position at KI thanks to a donation, has now been able to continue publishing scientific papers, and can enjoy the freedom and collegial exchange at KI, despite abiding concerns about their family and friends back home.

“Being able to think freely, exchange ideas and conduct research safely, securely and without political interference is a fundamental condition of academic activity and life as a researcher,” says Professor Östman Wernerson. “This is why Scholars at Risk and the support of our donors are so important.”