There are many big challenges facing the world and societies today and Springer Nature is committed to creating a sustainable business to help tackle them. This not only means using technology to open up research and accelerate solutions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but doing so in a manner that is ethical and responsible, and that supports people in a fair and impartial way.
This blog takes a closer look at the vital work of the Council for At-Risk Academics and explains how Springer Nature is supporting them, as highlighted in our recently published Sustainable Business Report.
The Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara) was founded in 1933 by Britain's foremost academics and scientists. It was set up in response to Hitler's decision to expel hundreds of leading scholars from German universities on racial grounds. The organisation’s founding goal was 'the relief of suffering and the defence of learning and science'.
In 2021, we partnered with this important organisation to announce the Springer Nature-Cara Fellowship Awards. These awards will support academics who have been unable to continue their work or studies in their home countries due to conflict, violence or other threats.
Nearly ninety years since Cara was founded, many academics and scientists around the world are still at grave risk. This risk comes in a number of different forms, from state persecution to working in warzones.
Those who say and write what they think are often seen as a focus of opposition and are targeted by repressive regimes or by extremist groups. This puts academics directly in the firing line.
Elsewhere, as law and order break down in conflict – for example, most recently in Ukraine – academics trying to continue their research or teaching find conditions increasingly difficult and dangerous. Simply getting to and from work can involve a whole catalogue of risks.
What happens to these academics matters, both on a personal level but also for society as a whole. This is because each and every one of them represents the future of higher education in their countries.
Where people cannot speak, write, teach and meet, freely and without fear, education is compromised, truth is denied and lies become established. Where academics and scientists are killed or displaced, intellectual capital is lost. And where higher education is destroyed, there will soon be no new teachers, no doctors, no architects, no lawyers. It will be increasingly challenging for young people to learn these vital skills. And the knock-on effects of this will be felt for generations.
Cara’s work is founded on the belief that academics, researchers and institutional leaders who are in grave danger must be helped, where necessary rescued, and their knowledge preserved. Those who want to go home should be supported to prepare to return when circumstances permit, to help to rebuild their countries’ infrastructure and higher education communities. While those who cannot return, because of the continuing dangers, must be helped to build new lives.
The charity provides financial support to some of the most highly-trained people from some of the world’s most dangerous places. It helps them to find a safe place where they can live and work, and further develop their advanced skills. All with the hope they can eventually return home to help rebuild better, safer, societies.
Many of those rescued in the charity’s history have gone on to achieve great distinction, including sixteen Nobel Prize Winners. In the past year, the need for this sort of support has been particularly under the spotlight from academics who have had to flee Ukraine and Afghanistan, as well as ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
In 2021, Springer Nature announced that we will be funding three fellowship awards with Cara, building on more than €3 million in donations and sponsorships from Springer Nature to charities and non-profit organisations since 2017.
“At Springer Nature, we want to support the researchers and educators with whom we work and by partnering with Cara we hope to make a tangible, positive impact on the lives of academics who have experienced the most serious threats and challenges,” said Joyce Lorigan, Global Head of Corporate Affairs at Springer Nature.
This partnership is a vital part of our ongoing work to create a truly sustainable business. While we know there is power in what we publish, we also believe in using charitable donations to support causes that align with our long-term aims – and Cara is a great example.
“Without the support of our partners, including this great new award scheme from Springer Nature, the academics we work with would have few if any other options,” added Stephen Wordsworth, Executive Director of Cara. “In many cases, their academic lives would be over; and in some cases at least, their freedom and even physical lives as well. Instead, they are safe.”
This post is part of a series to accompany the publication of Springer Nature's Sustainable Business Report 2021. It highlights just a few of the contributions we have made towards some of the SDGs over the past year, and how we continue to build foundations for the future through the continued opening up of research and the building of new partnerships.