Senior Program Officer, Global South Outreach

Scholars at Risk
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Apr 02

Position description

Scholars at Risk (SAR) seeks a Senior Program Officer / Research Scientist to develop and lead a program that aims to identify, co-create, and support independent regional coalitions, networks, and initiatives that conduct activities aimed at protecting and promoting academic freedom.

The position crosses all of SAR’s program areas, and will play a critical role in conceptualizing, researching, implementing, and integrating new regional activities into SAR’s existing global network and activities. Informed by SAR’s existing networks, partnerships and activities, the Senior Program Officer / Research Scientist will have primary responsibility for developing the program including: researching academic freedom conditions, researchers, advocates, organizations and networks in 3-4 world regions; identifying and cultivating local and regional experts to advise the effort; where not yet in place, supporting the onboarding of directors and host institutions who will lead regional coalitions and other initiatives; coordinating training and support for regional directors; with the regional directors and their colleagues, developing related research, teaching, and advocacy activities in each region; with the regional director, developing cross-regional communication and activities, including an annual global meeting/training for directors; managing grant allocations to support regional activities; integrating existing SAR membership, protection, advocacy, research, and learning activities into regional outreach efforts, as warranted, with responsibility for information management and cross-SAR, cross-network communication; and related grant-reporting; media/communications, and administration.

The Senior Program Officer / Research Scientist will report directly to the Director of Advocacy, with regular reporting to the Executive Director, Deputy Director, and Director of Membership and Network Services. The role is based in New York City and will involve substantial international travel including possibly to South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Primary responsibility for researching, academic freedom conditions, and onboarding and supporting regional academic freedom leaders and host institutions, in 3-4 global regions. (65%)

  • Building on existing SAR relationships, research academic freedom conditions, researchers, advocates, organizations and networks in 3-4 world regions
  • Conduct routine research (including media monitoring, expert meetings, and participation in academic events) into the academic freedom landscape in the 3-4 regions
  • Where directors are not yet in place, manage selection process and onboard candidates to serve as paid directors of regional academic freedom coalitions and other structures
  • Where hosting arrangements have not been finalized, work with finalist host institutions on developing and executing hosting agreements, budgets, and terms
  • With the regional directors:
  • Research and coordinate training and other support for regional directors
  • Develop, advise, and support related research, teaching, and advocacy activities in each region

Primary responsibility for coordinating links among regional directors, and with existing SAR membership, protection, advocacy, research, and learning activities (25%)

  • Develop cross-regional communication and activities
  • Develop and deliver annual global meeting/training for directors
  • Develop interim meetings, remote and in-person, within and across regions
  • Integrate existing SAR membership, protection, advocacy, research, and learning activities into regional outreach efforts, as warranted
  • Incorporate regional directors, activities, and partners in SAR Congress and other events
  • Present on regional activities to SAR’s International Advisory Committee (IAC) and Board

Related grant-reporting, media/communications, and administration (10%)

  • Lead responsibility for information management and communications across SAR, network members and external stakeholders, and regional directors, including developing newsletter content, email lists and bulletins, and media reports as warranted
  • Manage sub-grant allocations, tracking and reporting in support of regional activities

Similar to other Scholars at Risk positions, this is an at-will position, subject to further extension beyond the annual reappointment process in August, based on program priorities, exemplary performance, and availability of funds. The position offers a salary range of $70,000-$88,000, comparable to similar positions at peer organizations in the human rights/NGO field. Scholars at Risk is an independent not-for-profit corporation hosted at New York University (NYU). SAR staff are NYU employees seconded to SAR and are eligible for NYU employee benefits, including generous vacation leave and holidays; medical, dental, vision and life insurance options; and retirement benefits (all subject to terms established by NYU as described at


  • Graduate degree in a relevant field or extensive comparable experience required
  • 7 years experience or equivalent combination of education and experience required
  • Manager level experience in strategic decision-making and operations
  • Previous experience in the fields of academic freedom/free expression, higher education, international higher education, membership development, program management, human rights, immigration/refugee services, leadership/movement development, or related fields preferred
  • An entrepreneurial, diplomatic, and creative approach to problem solving that strengthens partnerships
  • Demonstrated ability to set priorities, track progress, and allocate limited resources to achieve results
  • Ability to create realistic goals and implementation plans
  • Flexible and comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty; able to work through evolving situations
  • Ability to generate and present data to SAR leadership to support decision-making
  • Excellent research, analytical, oral, and written communication and presentation 
  • Scheduling flexibility for calls across multiple time zones
  • Fluent written and spoken English required, other language fluency beneficial (including especially major languages spoke in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America)
  • Humility, confidence, flexibility, resilience, unquestionable personal integrity, strong personal and professional judgment, good listener, global mindset, culturally sensitive, welcomes and promotes diversity in all its forms

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION: Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 600 higher education institutions in over 42 countries. SAR’s mission is to promote academic freedom and defend the human rights of scholars and their communities worldwide. SAR meets this mission through three primary activity areas: (1) protection services for threatened scholars and other at-risk individuals; (2) advocacy and related research, reporting and campaigning for scholars or other victims of attacks on higher education; and (3) research and training on academic freedom and its constituent elements. In furtherance of all of these activities, SAR organizes multiple events, trainings, courses and publications, including a biennial SAR Global Congress—an international gathering for SAR’s global movement and prospective new partners to share experience, discuss critical issues, and shape SAR’s research and advocacy strategies for the coming years. SAR’s staff is organized into teams for each of these programming areas, along with a membership team to research and develop services and activities for network member institutions, faculty and students, and related development and administration roles. Information at

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