Centennial College: Supporting Academic Freedom Through Global Scholars at Risk Network

Member Spotlight

It's a sad fact that regressive regimes often target scholars and restrict academic freedoms by inhibiting research, publication, teaching, and learning in an attempt to restrain access to information and new ideas.

In defense of the human rights of academics and their communities, Toronto's Centennial College has recently joined the international Scholars at Risk Network, providing a safe haven and support to academics and graduate students who have fled conditions of political oppression in their homeland.

Centennial is the first and only Canadian college in a worldwide network of more than 200 colleges and universities that offer a supportive environment where scholars can resume their research, develop skills, and explore teaching opportunities. Centennial is one of five Canadian postsecondary institutions participating in the global project, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

In the past year, Centennial's Institute for Global Citizenship and Equity hosted Naba Saleem Hamid, an Iraqi scientist, educator, public speaker, and activist advocating for women's rights and peace. She is also the founder of the New Horizon for Women, a non-government organization in Iraq.

More recently, Moain Sadeq escaped armed conflict in Gaza to join the Institute as a visiting professor, where he pursued research on culture, gender, and cities. Sadeq started his academic career in the Middle East in 1991 when he cofounded the Faculty of Education in Gaza (now Al-Aqsa University) and served as the dean of the faculty and professor of Islamic culture, history, and civilization.

Presently, Centennial is hosting visiting scholar Clement Jumbe, who is completing his doctoral degree at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Clement has a Master of Education and a graduate diploma in Education from the University of Zimbabwe. He has more than 20 years of experience in education, including 12 years as a high school principal in his native Zimbabwe. Political strife in his homeland forced him to seek refuge in Canada.

Centennial is advocating on behalf of Scholars at Risk, having presented to the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC), discussing the role colleges in Canada can play in supporting their international counterparts in situations where teaching and learning are repressed. Representatives from Centennial and from the Scholars at Risk Network shared their experiences assisting threatened scholars and suggested ways in which individual academics could be supported.

By joining Scholars at Risk, Centennial College is demonstrating its pledge to advance global citizenship and social equity issues both in and out of the classroom. Centennial is recognized as one of the most culturally diverse postsecondary institutions in Canada, with almost 100 ethno-cultural groups represented at the college and 80 languages spoken on campus.

Contact: Eva Aboagye, Senior Researcher for the Institute for Global Citizenship and Equity