SAR Advocacy Seminars

Student Advocacy Seminars

SAR’s Student Advocacy Seminars provide university and college students with the opportunity to develop human rights research and advocacy skills through direct engagement on behalf of threatened members of the global higher education community in cooperation with SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and Scholars in Prison Project.

Omid Kokabee, a post-doctoral student of physics at the University of Texas, Austin, is serving 10-year prison sentence on charges of "communicating with a hostile government."

Omid Kokabee, an imprisoned Iranian post-doctoral student, was released in 2016 following years of advocacy efforts, including by SAR student advocates.

Arranged and supervised by local faculty in partnership with SAR, each seminar takes on the case of one or more scholars facing unjust restrictions, prosecution, or imprisonment. This experiential program is tailored to each institution and group of students and is designed to give students a foundation in:

  • Human rights research, standards, and mechanisms
  • Organizing and advocacy
  • Persuasive writing
  • Leadership and teamwork skills

Students from Roger Williams University advocating on behalf of imprisoned scholar Dr. Hossein Rafiee

Students from Roger Williams University advocating on behalf of imprisoned scholar Dr. Hossein Rafiee.

Student Advocacy Seminars are available to all SAR member institutions, and SAR and Student Advocacy Coordinators at Roger Williams University assist faculty members and students to create an opportunity that fits their curricular needs and interests. Over the course of the seminar, students gain a deeper understanding of both the value of the academic freedom they enjoy and the risks scholars and students around the world face in the pursuit of knowledge. Students organize awareness-raising advocacy initiatives and prepare an end-of-seminar report. Previous student advocacy efforts have ranged from viral social media campaigns to birthday parties for imprisoned scholars to in-person meetings with government officials. Student-generated reports provide a valuable and lasting resource to SAR for its ongoing advocacy work on behalf of threatened scholars. In addition, students have the chance to put their advocacy skills into practice at SAR’s  Student Advocacy Days.


“Remind them that ideas have no limitations, no nationality, no gender, no religion, and no race.”
— Azar Nafisi, 2017 Student Advocacy Day Keynote Speaker