ISPP Efforts to Help Turkish Scholars
The ISPP Governing Council believes that there is a responsibility to increase the level of support given to our colleagues in Turkey. Below we outline three initiatives including the launch of a dedicated donation drive through the ISPP web page.
You will probably be aware of the desperate situation facing our colleagues in Turkey. Earlier last year, over 1,000 academics (including many social and political psychologists) put their name to a petition questioning government policy regarding the Kurds. President Erdogan responded by putting pressure on Universities to discipline or even sack those who had signed.
Members of ISPP sent a number of letters (lead by Paul Nesbitt-Larking) outlining the importance of political psychology in Turkey, concerns about negative treatment of members, and the need to uphold academic freedom. Members of ISPP were also involved in the setting up a 'twinning scheme' (lead by Stephen Reicher) whereby non-Turkish scholars were linked to an academic outside Turkey. This allowed monitoring of the situation and, where necessary, to take action in support of those under threat.
Since the failed coup in July, and especially in the last few months, things have got dramatically worse. President Erdogan has moved to suppress anyone who has been critical of his actions, he has dismissed tens of thousands of public servants, teachers and academics. That includes, but is not confined to those who signed the petition. Treatment ranges from investigations, to sackings (along with a total prohibition on working in higher education and removal of pensions), confiscation of passports and, in some cases, criminal proceedings. This is a disaster for the individuals involved and also for academic freedom. The possibility for doing objective and independent research on social and political issues is severely constrained.
Accordingly, ISPP Governing Council is supporting and/or coordinating a number of initiatives.
- The first is a letter writing scheme: where colleagues are under threat of discipline, dismissal (or worse) we will provide a letter drop where members will be informed of where to find a letter and the addresses to which it should be sent. It may be possible to set up an on-line letter where you would be asked to read the letter and “click” to have you name added in support. We will be in touch with ISPP membership about how they can support letter writing.
- The second is a donation scheme which will raise money to support our colleagues in Turkey starting with Turkish-based members. The funds could be used to support travel to a non-Turkish host institution to build collaboration and conduct research, a small grants scheme to support the continuation of research, and joint funding for short-term posts. The Executive Committee of ISPP will decide how to allocate the funds to those in greatest need. It is unlikely that we can raise enough money to support people completely if they lose their jobs, but we hope to be able to make a small difference to help form links with scholars outside Turkey and so on.
As an ISPP member we are encouraging you to make a donation to support Turkish members who need help. You can simply click this link and make a donation.
We are also asking ISPP members to organize fundraising in their local Departments/Universities/communities and then use the same link to make a donation of the funds that have been raised. You can also get to the funding link via “Donate Funds” on the menu from the ISPP membership portal. You do not need to log in, nor be a member to make a donation.
- The third is a job-matching scheme that is about finding posts for those in need. In many countries (notably the U.S. and the U.K.) there are national Scholars at Risk programs (http://www.scholarsatrisk.org/) and most universities are signed up to them. Nothing is guaranteed, but the chances are improved if there is an academic connection between the host and the incoming academic. Our aim is to help form such a connection. We will use the ISPP Announcements webpage for potential host information about who they are and what they do.
If you and your colleagues in an institution are willing to explore the possibilities of finding a post for a Turkish scholar, we ask you to send the information to Sev Bennett [firstname.lastname@example.org]. This should include your name and email address, your institution and the area or areas in which you work and would welcome a connection. For legal reasons you also need to explicitly state you are happy for such information to be made public on the ISPP website. This information will then be posted in announcements on the ISPP website.
Colleagues in Turkey will be notified about the web page link and can respond directly to any posting which is relevant to them. It is then up to the two parties to take things forward together. If it would help to arrange a visit to build connection and collaboration, there may be money available from the donation scheme (see above) to pay for at least some of the costs.
We are obviously aware and so are our Turkish colleagues that even with a successful job match and the commitment on both sides such a project may fall through due to institutional constraints, in particular limited funding. We nevertheless strongly encourage those interested to examine the options for scholars at risk at their universities.
If you have any thoughts or any advice on this scheme, please let us know (especially if you have experience of other scholars support schemes and any tips to provide). Any accounts of things that have proved successful (or, indeed, things to avoid) would be invaluable.
Otherwise, we thank you for your support and for your help. These are increasingly difficult times for academics in many countries and we need to stand together in order to prosper.
* this message was send to ISPP members on March 10, 2017