MAPPING FUNDS AND SUPPORT NETWORKS FOR AT-RISK SCHOLARS: CASE OF TURKEY
“Mapping Funds“ is a collaborative research and mapping project that analyzes diversified support network, aiming to sustain continuity of scientific work of at-risk scholars (specifically from Turkey) from the year 2016 onwards. This ongoing collaborative/crowdsourced mapping effort includes actor-network analysis and generates visionary panacea for documenting both loose and tight relations between academics, universities, research institutions, civil society organizations as well as public and private donors.
First stage of the project has been accomplished in June 2018. However, circumstances for endangered scholars are not getting any better in Turkey or in other geographies. According to the Scholars at Risk annual report of 2018, entitled Freedom to Think, institutional autonomy of higher education is also threatened in Central and Eastern Europe. Therefore funding opportunities for at-risk scholars is growing and being more structured around the world, specifically in Europe as the actual geographical setting for this study.
The aim of this project, other than mapping support mechanisms, is also monitoring and reporting the improvements as well as gaps in funding structures for at-risk scholars. Travel restrictions imposed by governments against endangered academics is an important challenge against funding structures; thus we strongly suggest that alternative support mechanisms must be sustained, with the help of enabling technologies.
Research & Methodology
The main focus of our project is analyzing the network of funds and assistance received by Scholars at Risk from Turkey since 2016. The research team in this project strictly abides by ethics of collegiality and personal privacy as well as confidentiality measures of assisting organizations. Accessing the recipient`s information is not possible without institutional collaboration. Confidentiality is also essential for this project to protect scholars and foundations. Thereby, the aim of the project is to achieve collaborative network mapping process for enriching the community of scientific knowledge production.
Under these conditions, we have prepared two different maps, one of them public, the other one private. The public map “Support Networks of Scholars at Risk” illustrates the already declared supporter network which is publicly accessible and open to contribution. The private map “Funds for Endangered Researchers from Turkey” shows the funds and their institutional supporter network which is only visible for selective collaborators because of confidentiality and personal privacy issues. Also this second map is a work-in progress and needs to develop with the collaboration of supporter institutions.
The idea of the network map is to conceive the relationality between the actors and to recognize the leader actors, understand the central role, as well as intermediary pathways, bridges and peripheries. This method of visualization facilitates the investigation of key points in the subject matter and the actual research question.
The first step of the project was collecting the data from websites and personal connections. The first map which is public contains only public data from websites. The second map which is private includes both public data and personal contact info.
After data collection, to visualize them, “Graphcommons” (www.graphcommons.com) online platform was used. This platform was chosen because its working interface is more familiar among scholars and students in Turkey. This is important for the project, considering the map progress through interactive public contribution (crowdsourcing) during the next stage.
During the first stage of the project, we have created the map through data collection and as part of second phase we have done emailing to several institutions to ask for collaboration during the mapping process. During the first stage, we could reach 38 different support mechanisms; after implementing the communication with institutions through e-mail, we could access in total 69 support mechanisms and the private map has been improved. The next step of project is envisioned as further collaboration with diverse actors to be able to pitch a generator-friendly web site open to interactive contributions initially at the Brussels workshop in June 20, 2018, then on an online collaborative basis once the platform is launched and announced publicly.
During the visualization, the idea was to understand the main actors and relations without going into further complications. However, the details were also embedded to the map as properties, a platform tool for filtering and deeper investigation.
Last part of the project covers in-depth analysis of the maps.
Next are some map illustrations to give the readers an idea about the hands-on mappingas well as the public data to be analyzed.
Cluster of Support Networks of at-risk Scholars in/from Turkey
The leading institutions have been indicated as SAR, CARA and IIE, as well as Phillip Schwartz Initiative with its edge and bridge role To understand the map overall, bridges between clusters and periphery of the map are also important. Center of the map shows most relational and communicative actors, however bridge actors are key elements to create new ties between center and periphery. Most of the time, actors from periphery have more innovative ideas. Moreover, bridge actors can start communication with periphery and can bring those ideas to the center, as mentioned before with the Off-University example.
Cluster of Forum Transregional Studieren and its institution has important bridge role between 3rd Party Support, PSI and University support clusters. University of Bremen is another important bridge actor with tight relations between university support, PSI and municipal support. Hessen Fund for Refugees is also seen in bridge role between municipal, universities support and PSI clusters.
Distribution of Support to Scholars From and/or in Turkey
As seen on Graph 5, increasing number of direct support recipients in and from Turkey is significant. One of the main factors of that increase is the newly adapted fund models, targeting academics with travel restrictions. We also need to underline the fact that we could not reach any new informa tion about recipients unable to leave Turkey. Another point to consider in this regard is the decrease in number of applications by academics with travel bans in as a result of declining hope in time; thus the percentage of successful applications are on the rise.
Conclusion and Findings
● Since June 2018, 23 additional support mechanisms and 343 at-risk scholars as beneficiaries have been added to the database and mapping process.
● Current number of support/fellowship /position call is 92 and 55% of them is direct support.
● Universities and research institutions have provided the most substantial support among all di- verse actors so far with 44% in all direct/indirect funds. 3rd Party Support follows with 24%, Muni- cipal / Provincial support 5% and State support 4%. Some of the support is funded by two or more institutional types (such as PAUSE) and the ratio of that relational support is 23% and it includes Universities and research institutions, 3rd Party Support, Municipal and State support.
● Since June 2018 Municipal, State and Relational (plural actor) support has slightly increased.
● Communication and relation between actors based on support schemes mainly exist in countries. Only few actors play bridge roles between countries generally as a partner not as financial supporters. Only one umbrella organization IIE has a bridge role between France, Germany and Belgium clusters with respect to the existing funds. Philipp Schwarz Initiative between France and Germany, Institutd‘EtudesAvancées de Nantes and IMERA between France and Europe, University Edinburgh between Scotland and Europe, Wissenschaftskollegzu Berlin between Germany and Europe sustain relation and communication.
● On European states correlation basis, Germany grabs attention as the most substantial support and assistance provider, followed by France, Belgium, Austria and EU in general.
● Most connected leader actors of fund types are PAUSE 2018, 2019, 2017 calls and PSI 2017, 2016 rounds, which are also most sustained support structures based on fellowship.
● Most central actors of university support classification are respectively Forum Transregionale- Studien (Germany), Université de Nantes (France), INRA (France), University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), Humboldt-Universitätzu Berlin (Germany).
● Most central actors of 3rd Party Support classification are respectively Alexander vonHumboldt Foundation (Germany), NetIAS (EU), Philipp Schwartz Initiative (Germany), DFG (Germany) and Off University e.V. One of the important progress is made by Off University e.V, which has periphery role in first scheme of map, with its online teaching model for academics living in Turkey.
● Cluster of Forum Transregional Studieren and its institution has important bridge role between 3rd Party Support, PSI and University support clusters. University of Bremen another important- bridge actor tight relations between university support, PSI and municipal support. Hessen Funds- for Refugees is seen also in bridge role between municipal, universities support and PSI clusters.
● Respectively Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and DFG are most relational actors and they- both have bridge role between municipal support, PSI clusters and state support. NETIAS another important bridge actor lying in periphery. And it connects cluster of university, cluster of UniversitéCatholique de Louvain and cluster of 3rd party. It has also significant role as an EU organization, connecter among other countries.
● Considering direct funds, 387 beneficiaries are from or in Turkey; equaling 50% of all direct-funds beneficiaries.
• The “Matthew effect”, coined by Robert K.Merton known as the phenomenon of “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” in classical network relations should be noted. With this study, we aim to map out the existing actor-network relations in an overall perspective, but also highlight the opportunities that already occur or are likely to emerge from intra-relational networks. These opportunities can emerge by the agency of intermediary actors connecting periphery actors into the network.
• One must once again stress the importance of sustainability and the constraints that follow with available short-term funding mechanisms and support networks. This is definitely not in any way to state that these mechanisms are mundane or unnecessary; they are definitely the only sources to help out the endangered academics step into lands where academic freedom is well preserved and respected. However, stepping into new cultural settings and resetting lives at unexpected instances may create externalities, hard to deal with.
• In line of the finding above, International Society of Political Psychologists (ISPP) and European Association of Social Psychologists` (EASP) therapy and social counselling support act as a valuable service. These organizations also provide mechanisms for their members` perseverance in terms of grants or specific project work; another initiative to be taken as a prototype for professional organizations.
• Unions, such as Egitim-Sen in Turkey and its ally Education International in Europe, must also be an informed part of the network since distribution of grants, legal expenses that arise from court cases require organized follow-up structures with seamless accountability.
• TiHV-Human Rights Foundation of Turkey acts as the facilitator agent that allocates European funds for training, empowerment of civil society, monitoring and reporting of what at-risk scholars are going through under the given socio-political conditions in Turkey. Human rights organizations working with such perseverance and comprehensive aims must be encouraged and supported as defenders of democratic rights.
• University of Edinburgh Solidarity Initiative for online mentoring and counselling of doctoral students has been an exemplary initiative in our study for its coverage of younger academics-to-be at doctoral stage. This group, unfortunately, has been least covered and addressed by support networks at large. More collaborative effort must be allocated for its related needs.
• We foresee that the expansion of the network to include multiplicators such as Academic Refuge, refugee solidarity initiatives, institutions providing bridge support as well as intra-university and plural actor initiatives would be a viable solution that addresses above-mentioned concerns.
[i]since this is a very recent call, it has not been included into our maps that have last been updated in June, 2019. It will beincluded in ournext update.
Report write up by project supervisor, Assoc.Prof.Asli Telli Aydemir and researcher, Hazal Gümüs.