The Association for Iranian Studies Committee for Academic Freedom (AIS-CAF) is dedicated to the safeguarding of the freedom of inquiry and expression for its members as well as other scholars in the field of Iranian studies defined as all regions of the globe with a Persian or Iranian legacy, especially Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, the Caucasus and northern India, as well as diaspora communities of Iranians in Europe and the United States. Though Iranian Studies is the focus of AIS-CAF, it also may engage on broader questions of academic freedom in specific contexts and cases in accordance with procedures and guidelines approved by AIS Council.
AIS-CAF defines its mandate based on three necessary conditions:
1. That it pertains to a scholar of Iranian Studies;
2. That it concerns academic freedom (including but not limited to conducting research, publishing scholarship, delivering academic lectures, and travel for scholarly purposes),
3. That the action AIS-CAF would undertake is unlikely to jeopardize the well-being of the scholar in question.
Once AIS-CAF determines that these conditions have been met, it may recommend one or more of the following actions:
1. An official letter of concern to appropriate institutions and officials drafted by AIS-CAF and signed by the AIS President;
2. Continued active monitoring of the situation,
3. Collaboration with other professional societies and human rights/civil liberties organizations, or, referral of the case to a “scholar-at-risk” initiative.
Cases may be brought to the committee’s attention through professional networks and investigations or via concerned parties by contacting AIS-CAF chair. The committee will determine whether its mandate has been met through an internal investigation tasked by the AIS-CAF chair, AIS-CAF as a whole, or an advisory member(s) selected by the chair and approved by AIS Council.
AIS-CAF actions will be publicly reported to Council and AIS members, except where confidentiality must be maintained to preserve the safety of all concerned. Typically, all AIS-CAF letters will be posted on the AIS website shortly after they have been sent out and publicized on AIS social media accounts. As such, they will be accessible to the AIS membership and the broader public. AIS-CAF annual reports will be posted on the AIS website shortly after each AIS annual meeting.
AIS-CAF members are appointed by the President of AIS with approval by the Council. The committee consists, at a minimum, of one voting Chair and two voting members, at least one of which must be selected from among sitting members of the AIS Council. AIS President and AIS Executive Director shall serve as non-voting members, ex-officio. The standing CAF committee may be expanded by the AIS-CAF Chair, with the approval of AIS Council. The Chair, with the approval of AIS Council, may also recruit additional, non-voting, interim members when additional expertise is required or if there is a spike in the number of cases. Committee members serve for three-year terms renewable once. AIS-CAF is governed by its own set of bylaws approved by Council vote in 2020.
AIS Council voted to create a standing Committee for Academic Freedom (AIS-CAF) on May 30, 2020. The vote implemented the recommendations of the Academic Freedom Task Force based on a survey of AIS membership in January and February 2020. AIS-CAF replaces the ad hoc Committee on Academic Intellectual Freedom (CAIF), which functioned from 2006-2010.