Advocacy and Communications Officer

Scholars at Risk
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career
  • Posted
    Oct 24

Position description

Scholars at Risk (SAR) is seeking a highly-organized and team-oriented individual to join the SAR team as an advocacy and communications officer. This is a new position charged with coordinating and strengthening SAR’s messaging about the SAR global network, its noteworthy achievements, current activities, publications, and related relevant issues. Specifically, the position will focus on research and drafting reports and communications campaigns highlighting SAR’s work protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom. This includes writing summary reports of incidents of attacks on higher education worldwide and drafting content for inclusion in SAR’s annual Free to Think report, white-papers, country reports, and advocacy campaigns. The officer will play a key research and communications role within the organization, coordinating with senior and junior staff in all areas of SAR’s work. The position requires excellent research, writing, tech/social media and organizational skills, attention to detail, and judgment. It is ideal for a proactive individual who takes initiative. The position requires timely and professional communication, including with partners, SAR and NYU staff, media, and the public.


70% - Research and reporting on attacks on scholars/academic freedom: SAR researches, documents, analyzes and reports on attacks on higher education and “softer” academic freedom-related incidents through SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project and Promoting Higher Education Values Project, respectively. The advocacy and communications officer will:

-- Implement an enhanced research system using “smart-search” technology to increase the volume and efficiency of SAR monitoring, including

  • working with SAR’s technology vendor(s) to develop successful search algorithms to flag potential qualifying incidents of attacks on higher education worldwide;
  • refining efforts based on results to reduce false positives;
  • analyzing results for inclusion in SAR monitoring and values research and reporting;
  • drafting resulting incident reports and case studies; and
  • sharing relevant reports and studies via SAR websites, press list, email lists, and social media.

-- Research, draft, verify, and publish monitoring reports;

-- Assist with the research, drafting, verification and publication of Free to Think, white-papers, country reports, and advocacy campaigns in digital and print format;

-- Assist with the research, drafting and production of case examples and other materials relating to “softer” disputes about academic freedom, autonomy or other core higher education values that fall short of the definition of violent or coercive attacks captured by the monitoring project, for inclusion in SAR’s promoting higher education values work. 

30% - Develop and implement SAR’s communications plan: Working with all program areas and executive staff, the advocacy and communications officer will:

-- Research and draft an overall communications plan for SAR, with goals, suggested campaigns and objectives, target audiences, success criteria, timeline and benchmarks;

-- Integrate into the plan current SAR communications and materials, including SAR’s weekly Academic Freedom Media Review (an e-mail bulletin that compiles media articles, blogs, opinion pieces and other announcements about academic freedom worldwide), monthly Advocacy Insider (e-newsletter that includes action alerts, significant attacks on higher education, related media reports and updates on advocacy clinics and other projects), monthly SAR newsletter, and annual report;

-- Prepare memorable, accessible and easily sharable complementary materials to SAR research and reports, including especially Free to Think and country white papers/reports;

-- Research and supervise production of brief summary videos for Free to Think, and possibly other reports, that can be shared online and via social media;

-- Manage website content, assess performance of website, recommend updates, research solutions to website challenges, and implement changes;

-- Research and draft essays, op-eds, press releases, digital posts, talking points and other content that highlight SAR, recent network activities and achievements, new SAR research, key research findings, and relevant events and issues;

-- Research and create media opportunities to promote the SAR research and publications, including developing media lists and strategies for placement, managing press relations and inquiries, and arranging interviews for interested media with report researchers and subjects;

-- Successfully pitch stories in media and promote content in social media;

-- Take primary responsibility for the updating and maintenance (with outside vendors) of SAR’s website, Twitter, Facebook and related pages; produce and curate effective content;

-- Develop an editorial calendar for blogs, reports, and story ideas/pitches for print and online; and

-- As appropriate, identify or develop communications trainings for SAR staff/leadership.


  • Undergraduate degree required
  • Excellent research and oral and written communication skills in English
  • Exceptional attention to detail, initiative, and problem-solving abilities
  • One to three years of progressively responsible experience in a communications role desirable, preferably related to international education and/or human rights
  • Experience in press outreach and digital communications; strong understanding of social media for nonprofit organizations, including outreach, media and development
  • Experience successfully pitching stories to media
  • Ability to build and maintain strong, trusting internal relationships within and across teams
  • Ability to manage competing interests, complex political and cultural factors, and tensions between long- and short-term goals
  • Social media, WordPress, Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign) experience required

Application instructions

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