The Scholars at Risk Network and the Committee of Concerned Scientists have renewed their calls for the release of Omid Kokabee, a doctoral student of physics, from Iran’s Evin Prison in response to reports that Kokabee has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Kokabee, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, is serving a 10-year sentence on charges of communicating with a hostile government. Amnesty International considers him a "prisoner of conscience held solely for his refusal to work on military projects in Iran and as a result of spurious charges related to his legitimate scholastic ties with academic institutions outside of Iran."
The University of Edinburgh is putting in place new policies requiring all staff to report their locations to their managers “when officially at work, but not in their normal place of work” for a half day or longer, Times Higher Educationreported.
The university said it has opted to apply the new reporting requirements -- which are a condition of work visas for employees from outside the European Union -- to all staff, regardless of their nationality, as a matter of fairness. But some have accused Edinburgh of overreach. “Rather than using the oppressive requirements to which the Home Office subjects a handful of valued colleagues to justify comprehensive micromanagement, we should use our position and power to challenge this xenophobia and treat everybody with greater trust,” one unidentified academic told Times Higher.
The American Bar Association rescinded an offer it made to publish a book on human rights lawyers in China out of fear of upsetting the Chinese government, according to a leaked email from an ABA employee obtained by Foreign Policy. The ABA, however, maintains that the employee's email misrepresents the association's reasons for not publishing the book.
The ABA's publishing arm commissioned the book, Darkness Before Dawn, in December 2014. In January 2015 an unnamed ABA employee sent an email to the book's author, Teng Biao, withdrawing the offer: “Apparently, there is concern that we run the risk of upsetting the Chinese government by publishing your book,” the employee wrote, “and because we have ABA commissions working in China there is fear that we would put them and their work at risk.”
In the email the employee offered to help Teng find another publisher and wrote that “this has the potential to be an amazing book.”
ABA officials did not question the authenticity of the employee's email but said in a statement to Foreign Policy that “the decision not to proceed with publication of the book Darkness Before Dawn was made for purely economic reasons, based on market research and sales forecasting conducted by the association’s publishing group.”
“Unfortunately, the reasons resulting in the decision were miscommunicated to Mr. Teng,” the statement from Robert T. Rupp, an ABA executive, said.
Ecuador is not a top study abroad destination for American students, but the earthquake this weekend had a number of American colleges and universities reaching out to contact their students who are in that country. So far, the news is good and Boston University, Michigan State University and the University of Oregon were able to announce that all students were safe.
The University of Birmingham, in Britain, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last week announced an unusual postdoc research program. The postdocs will work on one of six "global challenges" involving issues such as brain trauma, computational genomics and diversity in education. The first and third years of the postdocs will be spent at Birmingham and the second year at Illinois.
The president of Ireland said that universities are facing "a moment of intellectual crisis" in which their purpose is in question, The Irish Times reported. In an address to the European University Association conference, President Michael D. Higgins warned against the reduction of the purpose of universities to "narrow professional training" and said that future generations would see a withdrawal from the humanities as a “betrayal of the purpose of education."
“If we wish to develop independent thinkers and questioning, engaged citizens, our universities must, while providing excellence in professional training, avoid an emphasis that is solely or exclusivity on that which is measurable and is demanded by short-term outcomes," Higgins said.