Academic Freedom Committee

Created by ISA’s Governing Council in 2009 and first assembled in 2010, the Academic Freedom Committee (AFC) is charged with documenting instances where scholars in all disciplines related to international studies are persecuted for their peaceful, non-partisan, professional activities, particularly when engaged in activities related to scholarly research and teaching. The Committee will document such violations as: government revocation of academic degrees; demotion or dismissal; denial of a petition to emigrate, travel abroad or return to one's country of origin; and arrest, arbitrary detention, disappearance, and extrajudicial killing.

Responsibilities

The mandate of the AFC includes all scholars of international studies, beginning with but not limited to members of the ISA and affiliated national international studies associations. This policy pertains only to the non-partisan, peaceful conduct of academic activities and freedom of expression. Any actions taken under this policy must not contradict ISA's prohibition regarding involvement in political issues.

The AFC’s primary role is to receive information about violations of academic freedom, make a judgment as to its merits, and then recommend to the ISA Executive Committee a position for ISA to take. In addition, the AFC may, in consultation with the ISA President and Executive Director, publicize the threat or violation through official ISA newsletters, email lists and other relevant means, and urge ISA members to take action on an individual basis. The AFC may also recommend that ISA join the official advocacy efforts of peer organizations or express its concern directly to relevant government officials and international bodies. All action by the ISA as an organization requires a) in cases where urgent action is required, a two-thirds majority consent of the voting members of the Executive Committee or b) in all other circumstances, a two-thirds majority of the Governing Council. Letters of inquiry and concern may be signed by the ISA President, the Governing Council, or the AFC, as deemed appropriate. The President may act on behalf of the ISA only with the expressed consent (as above) of the Executive Committee or Governing Council.

The AFC will convene in a formal session once a year at the annual meeting of ISA to review overall policies. For individual cases, Committee members will maintain electronic contact between sessions and can take up new cases and make proposals to the Executive Committee at any time during the year.

About the Committee

The Academic Freedom Committee is a permanent standing committee of ISA. Committee members are appointed by the ISA President and approved by the ISA Governing Council.

Membership and Terms

  • Seven committee members serve three-year, staggered terms
  • Terms officially begin with the ISA Governing Council meeting of the first year listed and end with the closing of the ISA Governing Council meeting of the final year listed 
  • The President and Executive Director of ISA will serve as ex-officio members

Committee Members

Anthony F. Lang, Jr. | Chair
March 2016 - April 2018
University of St. Andrews

See Full Committee Membership

Outside Resources

We encourage those interested to visit the following for more information about academic freedom issues world-wide.

The International Studies Association

Representing over 100 countries, ISA has more than 6,500 members worldwide and is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. Endeavoring to create communities of scholars dedicated to international studies, ISA is divided into 6 geographic subdivisions of ISA (Regions), 29 thematic groups (Sections) and 4 Caucuses which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and research with local colleagues and within specific subject areas.
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