Global universities call on G7 leaders to defend academic freedom

  • Institutional
  • International
Published on October 1, 2022 Updated on October 1, 2022

on the June 27, 2022

cannes G7
cannes G7

The U7+ Alliance of World Universities issued a statement urging leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) to defend academic freedom, warning that a resurgence of autocracy is thwarting higher education's institutional autonomy and its ability to fulfill its mission.

"The crisis of democracy, evident in the rise of political extremism and polarization, has threatened the freedom of some university faculty, as individual scholars, to address controversial subjects in research and teaching," reads the statement.

 The U7+ Alliance further called on G7 member states to ensure that faculty can conduct their work free from domestic and international political interference.
The statement also emphasized the unique role universities can play in providing scientific evidence to policymakers on a variety of issues, including climate change, public health, inequality, diversity, and migration.
"I commend the member universities of the U7+ Alliance for their efforts in working together to address the world's most pressing challenges," said Morton Schapiro, president of Northwestern University.

"The role of U7+ has never been more important in reaffirming the role of universities as knowledge carriers and solution provider, and thus delivering on the promise of a future for the younger generation and for civil society in general," Jeanick Brisswalter, President of Université Côte d'Azur.

The U7+ Alliance also urged the G7 to support the values of peace and of an open society, and more particularly the plight of refugees, and insisted that all those fleeing conflict be treated equally regardless of race or any other identity.
The Alliance was formed in Paris in July 2019 under the patronage of French President Emmanuel Macron and continues to convene university leaders every year since then. In 2021, Northwestern University was elected to serve as the first secretariat of the alliance for a three-year term.

"University leaders this year have shown once again their institutions' commitment to advocate for important global issues," said Annelise Riles, associate provost for Global Affairs at Northwestern and executive director of the Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, who leads the secretariat. "I look forward to seeing the U7+ Alliance engage more formally with G7 leaders in Japan next year."
The statement was issued following this year's U7+ presidential summit hosted by Université Côte d'Azur. The next summit will be hosted by Keio University in Japan, ahead of the 2023 G7 summit.

About the U7+ Alliance of World Universities
The U7+ is a coalition of university presidents aimed at strengthening and advancing the role of universities as global leaders in a multilateral context. As members of this alliance, university presidents take stock of their univiersities' unique civic and social responsibilities on the global stage, and pledge collective and concrete action at a local, regional, and global level. The U7+ Alliance brings together more than 90 university presidents and leaders from 19 countries on six continents.