[Photo courtesy of Western Law]
Lawyer Anna Dolidze has turned fear, and exile from her home country of Georgia, into a succession of “firsts” and a new career at Western University, but not without a little help along the way.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) — an international network devoted to providing sanctuary through safe, temporary work to scholars in danger — steered Dolidze to New York University Law School where she was hosted as a Podell Global Scholar in 2007, after fleeing Georgia.
In 2012 she became the first “scholar at risk” welcomed to Western University, a term placement that led to her recent acceptance of a tenure-track job teaching property law and public international law at the school. Her invitation to Western also marked the first of a scholar at risk to a law school in Canada.
“We are thrilled to have her,” said Western law professor Michael Lynk, a long-time champion of the SAR program. “She is a wonderful scholar with a compelling story, to say the least.”
That story began years ago when Dolidze, who holds an LLM from Leiden University in the Netherlands, chaired the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, the leading human rights organization in her home country. As a public critic of the Georgian government’s abuse of power, she was targeted with threats and left Georgia for New York City.
Since then, in addition to the opportunity offered by NYU, Dolidze was also invited as a visiting fellow at Columbia University and earned a doctorate from Cornell University, and credits the SAR program with finding her safe havens where she could continue her academic work.
Lynk views the program as “an extension of the commitment to academic freedom.
“Where scholars can’t speak their minds or their conscience because of political or other persecution, it’s incumbent on us who enjoy democracy and tolerance to defend the civil liberties and academic freedom of our colleagues internationally,” he said.
About 250 higher education institutions in 30 countries around the world belong to the SAR network, with eight Canadian universities participating.