aerial image of campusThe University of Windsor has proven a refuge for a scholar at risk in his home country.

Scholar finds refuge and voice at University of Windsor

It was a long journey for one scholar to return to a university lecture hall — from facing persecution for speaking out against his government to delivering food upon seeking refuge in Canada.

A professor in his home country, the scholar, who requested not to have his name included due to safety concerns, voiced his opinions about oppression in his classroom and the media, facing dire consequences as a result.

“I was threatened, abducted, beaten. And then I had to beg for my life, and I just told them that I would just shut up,” he shared.

With encouragement from his wife, he left the country in 2020, eventually making his way to Canada where he delivered food for an app service company.

While working on a post-doctoral proposal on human rights, the scholar connected with another Canadian professor who suggested he apply for the Scholars at Risk (SAR) program, a coalition of academic institutions dedicated to safeguarding academic freedom and championing the rights of scholars worldwide. Locally, a working group was formed under the auspices of the provost’s office, comprising representatives from various campus community stakeholders.

About a year later, the scholar found out the University of Windsor was interested in hosting him through the program with a position available in the Department of Political Science.

“When I heard they wanted to meet with me, I was out of this world excited. I had been yearning for this, I wanted to be back in the classroom, I wanted to be in the office, talking with professors,” the scholar said.

He packed his bags and headed to Windsor ready to fulfill that desire. He settled into the area with help from Canterbury College, which provided him with a place to stay in July 2023 while he looked for housing.

Law professor Chris Waters, chair of the University’s SAR working group, said members were happy to welcome the colleague to campus.

“We have been incredibly impressed with his insights into the strategic studies field as well as his commitment — at real personal cost — to academic freedom,” Dr. Waters said.

Since settling at UWindsor, the scholar has taught courses on war and terrorism, populism, and comparative politics.

“The best part is that the University of Windsor lets you be who you are,” he said. “It’s wonderful. I hold progressive views which are controversial in certain contexts and for some people. The beauty of being at University of Windsor and in a progressive country is that you can hold and express those views that you think can change our society and world, a shared place for humanity for better without feeling threatened.”

While having taught in many countries around the world, with students in more than 70, the scholar said so far, the University of Windsor has been the best workplace.

He credits that to the support he’s received from staff, colleagues, and his students. He beamed with pride and appreciation while sharing a video of his students gifting him a signed Canadian flag at the end of the semester.

“I’ll keep it with me forever,” he said. “The students gave me a standing ovation after finishing my course this semester. It’s amazing, you know, I’m away from my wife and kids but I have some very good reasons to be happy and smile.”

The SAR working group welcomed a second scholar to the Faculty of Science in January. To learn more about the program, visit

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