Scientists in Exile: A meta-view of the impact of ongoing uncertainty and risks for scientists and the production of science

Organizer: Vivi Stavrou
Format: Online


Humanitarian emergencies and disasters displace millions of people. Among them are scientists, doctors, engineers, and others with advanced academic and technical training. Forced displacement has devastating consequences on the scientific endeavour – knowledge and people get lost.

There is little recognition of refugee and displaced scientists, neither of their potential nor of their needs. Failing to preserve the work of these scientists (and aspiring scientists) causes a tragic loss of knowledge on a global scale and has devastating consequences as countries lose their experts and educators. Enabling scientists to maintain meaningful careers and creating new collaborations will not only preserve their research, but allow communities to benefit from their valuable knowledge, including the possibility to rebuild their countries in the future.

Programmes to support displaced scientists are few and fragmented. Until now, there has not been a unified global effort to identify and advocate for the affected scientists, where they can come together for peer support, voice their concerns, or search for opportunities — and research on these issues is limited. A new initiative, launched in March 2021, aims to create such a global platform and a network that supports the needs of refugee and displaced scientists and advocates for a coordinated global response.

Organized by the International Science Council (ISC), working with The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) under the umbrella of Science International, this session will bring together a group of early and mid-career refugee and displaced scientists working in the area of socio-environmental sustainability and resilience. Using a humanist approach to the preservation of science, the session will draw on exiled scientists’ own narratives to explore the impact of displacement; the challenges and the building back; the benefits of support and integration, and how the science community can respond.

Theme: Beyond the 2030 global targets