- A New, New School for Social Research University in Exile
this special issue of social research provides a great deal of information about the individuals, foundations, and other nongovernmental organizations that worked to protect scholars endangered by the horrors of Nazism. It is worth noting, however, that of educational institutions in the United States, the New School was the first to do so and the only one to step up in such a significant way.
In 1933, under the leadership of its first president, Alvin Johnson, the New School distinguished itself by creating the University in Exile as a haven for rescued scholars. This was a founding moment for the school (its second, the first having been in 1919 when the New School itself was established). It was also the first public recognition by an institution of higher learning of the special obligation such institutions have to protect academic freedom and freedom of inquiry, values that lie at their very core. It was a clear signal to the world of the need to protect, nurture, and provide for endangered scholars.
Unfortunately, this need is as urgent now as it ever was. Massive numbers of professors have been fired from their university posts by the Erdogan regime in Turkey since the failed coup and left without means of support. The war in Syria has taken an enormous toll on all parts of that nation's university system and forced large numbers of scholars to flee their country. Scholars are endangered elsewhere as well: in China, Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia, and in many other places. And once again, only nongovernmental organizations [End Page xxi] have worked to assist them, including the Scholar Rescue Fund and Scholars at Risk in the United States; Cara in the United Kingdom; and the Philip Schwartz Initiative in Germany.
Because we at the New School believe it is our moral obligation to follow in the footsteps of Alvin Johnson, and, like him, we believe that universities themselves have a special and primary obligation to help our endangered colleagues, we are in the process of working to establish a new University in Exile (UIE).
Unlike the original UIE, which brought a significant cohort of scholars to the New School itself, the new UIE is envisioned as a consortium of universities. Each institutional member of the consortium will be committed to providing a temporary academic home for one or two endangered scholars, who, as scholars in residence, will automatically become members of an extended exiled academic community. The plan is to build this community by engaging these scholars, along with their host colleagues, in a series of workshops, conferences, and seminars, held both in classrooms and online, based at the New School and centered on the issues that are of greatest importance to the scholars and the countries from which they have fled. Our hope is that through these activities, and with the necessary support, the scholars we host will be able to find their way back to productive scholarly work that not only nurtures them individually but also ultimately protects and nurtures the academic cultures from which they have been forced to flee. [End Page xxii]