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Doomed to Hope: A Professor’s Journey from Damascus to Vanderbilt

By Karim Oliver and Charlotte Mellgard

The Vanderbilt Political Review profiled IIE-SRF Alumnus Issam Eido, who escaped Syria toward the start of the conflict there.

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Syrian Researcher Focuses on Arab World Climate Change

By Benjamin Plackett

From across the Mediterranean Sea at the University of Florence, a Syrian economist called Ahmad Sadiddin is modelling the financial implications of global warming for four Arab countries: Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

“We have an in-depth analysis on this by piecing together whatever data is available,” explains Sadiddin, “Rainfall across the MENA region, especially in Mediterranean countries, is going to decrease and agriculture consumes 80 percent of water in the region.”

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Fellowship Brings Syrian Scholar to Harvey Mudd

A world-class, high-tech researcher, Ahmad Adib Sha’ar made his way from Aleppo, Syria, to the United States with his wife and children after the Syrian civil war erupted. He was assisted by the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund, which supports visiting scholars from war-torn areas. Thanks to the generosity of donors, Sha’ar will be able to continue his beneficial research while serving as a visiting professor at Harvey Mudd College.

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Can Syria's Refugee College Students And Professors Reboot Their Classrooms In Chaos?

By Emma Jacobs

The Jamiya Project is an ambitious blended learning program that aims to help refugees pursue their college dreams.

The course will follow the curriculum of and—significantly, be accredited by—Gothenburg University in Sweden, though Jamiya is still awaiting approval to allow its credits to be transferable to other schools. The accreditation piece is crucial, according to James King, assistant director of the Scholar Rescue Fund at the New York-based Institute of International Education. Though still valuable regardless, the majority of online course offerings have not been able to offer students courses that count toward a degree, he notes.

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Turkey’s purge of academia leads to record asylum requests

By Jack Grove

Turkey is now the number one country for applications from under-threat scholars seeking safety in Western universities, according to two charities that help at-risk academics.

With hundreds of academics sacked, suspended or under investigation in the wake of the unsuccessful coup attempt in July, the Scholar Rescue Fund has faced an “unprecedented” number of requests for help, its director Sarah Willcox told an audience at the European Association for International Education’s annual conference, held in Liverpool from 13 to 16 September.

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Exiled Syrian Engineer Designs Wheelchair Upgrade

By Benjamin Plackett

Back in 2012, when protests had turned to revolution, engineering lecturer and researcher Tarek Kasmieh began to look for a way out of Syria. He says he wasn’t political and, unlike many other academics, he made a point of not taking sides in the conflict in order to avoid being targeted. But he still remembers mortars falling around the Syrian Virtual University and the Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology in Damascus where he worked.

In his new life outside of Syria, Kasmieh believes he has found a way to put his skills to use, as he is trying to improve the lives of wheelchair users. He works as a researcher at the Laboratory of Industrial and Human Automation Control, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science at the Université de Valenciennes in northern France. Here he has helped found a start-up company called AutoNomad Mobility to create and market a product that adapts regular wheelchairs into motorized ones. “With no major innovation since its invention over a century ago, the average wheelchair is overdue a redesign,” says Kasmieh.

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Researcher Suggests a Way to Protect Refugees’ Babies From Stress

By Benjamin Plackett

Al-Fanar Media profiles IIE-SRF alumna Amal Alachkar of Syria and her work studying the effects of war and stress on fetuses and new born babies. It's work that could have implications for millions of Syrian children for many years to come. 

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Beautiful Minds

By Anna Wallace-Thompson

A special auction by Christie’s is raising funds for artists and academics living in areas of conflict, including Syria and Iraq. Anna Wallace-Thompson speaks to one of the artists whose work is included in the sale, and who has benefited from the actions of The Scholar Rescue Fund. 

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Turkey's Fraying International Ties

By Elizabeth Redden

A crackdown on Turkey’s higher education sector after a failed coup has far-reaching effects for fraying academic collaboration and exchange.

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This Organization Is Rescuing Artists and Scholars from Syria and Iraq

By Anna Wallace-Thompson

“While ISIS is destroying Syria’s fabled and archaeological past,” says Dr. Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE), “the war is destroying the future of its arts. At the same time, we are hearing about artists and intellectuals who are continuing to generate new art in the context of the war.”

The [IIE Scholar] Rescue Fund aims to enable these artists and scholars to continue their work, seeing them as key assets to the future rebuilding of their respective homelands. The organization is also providing support for students and staff currently residing in the wider Middle East. This year, Christie’s annual online auction, UNTITLED: Insider Art Show, has partnered with IIE-SRF to raise funds to support these scholars in exile. Of the 60 works on offer, eight are by three artists who have benefited from the organization’s assistance—Syrian interior designer and artist Dr. Joumana Jaber, Iraqi painter Saddam al Jumaily, and one who wishes to remain anonymous due to fears for his safety.

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