CAFA was pleased to organize the Second Conference on Academic Freedom in the Americas (#CAFA2023) at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná-PUCPR in Curitiba, Brazil from November 9 to 10, 2023. Scholars, students and academic freedom advocates attended in-person and online for two days of discussions highlighting challenges and opportunities in protection, advocacy, research, and litigation related to academic freedom and university autonomy.
#CAFA2023 kicked off with the global launch of Scholars at Risk’s Free to Think 2023 report, which analyzed 409 attacks on higher education communities in 66 countries and territories. The launch opened the conference with a global look at threats to academic freedom, regional perspectives from Africa, the Americas, and Southeast Asia, and recommendations for national, regional, and international actions to protect and promote academic freedom.
The subsequent conference panels covered a wide range of topics. Participants’ paid close attention to the threat of authoritarian actors in Nicaragua and Venezuela that have violated university autonomy and targeted particular scholars and students for their views. There was exploration of the opportunities and challenges to conducting strategic litigation that can help safeguard academic freedom in the Americas. Panelists examined the widespread issue of gender-based violence on campus, how it threaten academic freedom and the right to education, and the need to develop and ensure effective response and prevention protocols and mechanism.
CAFA members also discussed efforts to host at-risk scholars on their campuses, including new programs at the City University of New York and the Universidad de Costa Rica. Scholars at Risk held discussions with CAFA members and colleagues from Africa and Southeast Asia to explore opportunities for inter-regional and global advocacy and solidarity, including through coalition-building efforts similar to CAFA. The conference closed with a keynote by Conrado Hübner Mendes, Professor of Constitutional Law at the Universidade de São Paulo, who spoke of contemporary challenges to academic freedom in Brazil.
What a pleasure it was to be in Curitiba, Brazil, at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná-PUCPR, after months of preparation to meet with colleagues, scholars and defenders of academic freedom and university autonomy. We are looking forward to next year!
The conference at a glance!
- Read the Scholars at Risk (SAR)’s report: Free to Think 2023.
The conference in the news!
Articles and news about CAFA 2023:
- 14.11.2023 | A successful second CAFA conference on academic freedom in the Americas (HRREC, uOttawa)
- 04.12.2023 | Academic freedom is under attack in the Americas – overcoming silence and intimidation: Isaac Nahon-Serfaty for Inside Policy (Macdonald-Laurier Institute)
CAFA is a coalition led by the University of Monterrey (Mexico), the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre (Canada) and Scholars at Risk (United States) and aims to increase awareness of and advocacy in the defence of academic freedom across the Americas.