Show Notes

Robert Quinn is the executive director of Scholars at Risk Network, which helps protect and relocate members of higher education communities whose freedom and security are threatened in their home countries. Since the founding of Scholars at Risk in 2000, SAR has assisted over 1000 scholars through temporary research and teaching visits. You can join the network here. You can find out more about Scholars at Risk at and on Twitter at @ScholarsAtRisk.

Rob’s MOOC is Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters.

You can other interviews with Rob at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.



“We’ve been developing curricula, workshops. We have a MOOC on academic freedom. It’s called “Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters”… hosted on the Future Learn platform. So we ran it as a test in June. We had over 1000 participants from over – I think it was 90 countries. The comments were really amazing because there’s a real tendency – and I think this is one of the big problems in getting people to understand academic freedom and why it matters is the real tendency to see this through a hyper local lens. That this is just about our domestic politics.

Where our work is, no. If you go to the layer underneath that, this is about what are the rules for sharing and testing ideas in society. How do we have a space where we can agree that you don’t win by having the most force? That you don’t win by being able to shout down or intimidate or imprison the people who have different ideas.

So the MOOC was really interesting to see people from different religious backgrounds, national backgrounds, educational institutions, countries, wrestle with case examples and to see how they related that to incidents from their own countries.”



The values promotion work of Scholars at Risk 6:22
Dangerous Questions, a MOOC on Academic Freedom 7:00
Dealing with trolls 9:55
What is higher education for? 13:25
A human rights lens on universities 18:22
Why Rob is optimistic but not naïve 20:32


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This is a transcript of this episode.