Last week, Professor Timothy Garton Ash delivered the fifth annual Cara ‘Science and Civilisation’ lecture. He drew on his new book, ‘Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World‘ and Free Speech Debate, the 13-language Oxford University website
The ‘Science and Civilisation’ lecture series stems from the title of lecture given by Albert Einstein in October 1933 at the Royal Albert Hall. That inaugural event was a fundraiser on behalf of Cara and three other organisations who had unified as the ‘The Academic Assistance Council’ to help those being expelled from Germany by the Nazis.
Escape the dictators
Cara (the Council for At-Risk Academics) was founded in 1933 by Britain’s foremost academics and scientists, in response to Hitler’s decision to expel hundreds of leading scholars from German universities on racial grounds. Their stated goal was ‘the relief of suffering and the defence of learning and science’.
Over eighty years later, many academics and scientists around the world are still at severe risk. Those who say and write what they think are often seen as a potential focus of opposition, and so are targeted by repressive regimes or extremist groups.
High price for critical thought
Peaceful protest can be enough to attract persecution, incarceration, or even murder. Those who work in state-run universities or teaching hospitals may be pursued and murdered by extremists, as ‘puppets’ of the state.
In other countries, the danger can have very specific roots – an individual may belong to the ‘wrong’ religion or ethnic group, or be of the ‘wrong’ sexual orientation in a society where being different risks getting you beaten up, or even killed.
10 x 20
Applications for Cara’s help are at record levels; and they have a long waiting list. How can we solve this problem? Some 400,000 people work in Higher Education in the UK, and more in the UK’s learned societies.
If 10% of them were able to give just £20 to Cara every year – £5 per quarter – their finances- and consequently, the lives of threatened academics would be transformed.
How can you help?
Cara have launched their ‘10 x 20’ fundraising appeal– with the goal of persuading 10% of staff in UK universities and learned societies to sign up to a regular donation of £20 per year.
Lucy Harper, Chief Executive of SfAM says, “We are proud to support the work of CARA: their work is very much in line with our object: to advance for the benefit of the public, the science of microbiology in its application to the environment, human and animal health, agriculture and industry” and their values align with the values and culture of the Society for Applied Microbiology.”
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