Science in Exile

This project aims to create a network of like-minded organizations that will work together to develop and roll out a coordinated advocacy campaign to support and integrate refugee, displaced and at-risk scientists.

Image with text "Science in exile"

The world is currently witnessing the highest numbers of forcibly displaced people on record. Their migrations are driven by conflict, persecution, violence, political uncertainty, climate change and environmental degradation, and are unlikely to diminish in the coming years. Forced migration affects some of the world’s least well-funded science systems, with relatively low levels of scientific capacity, as well as countries such as Iraq and Syria, which have had strong science systems that are now largely destroyed.

Science in Exile is conceptualized as catalytic global platform mobilizing displaced scientists, the broad scientific community and organizations with a specific science in exile and scientists at risk mandate to engage in, (1) Global support – how science organizations, institutions and systems can integrate, protect and support displaced scientists to have a meaningful career in their host/new countries, and (2) Preservation of science/build back response – how the science community can support the preservation and future development in countries and regions devastated by conflict and other humanitarian disasters and ongoing emergencies.

Anticipated impact

The Science in Exile network will gather knowledge and lay the groundwork for a cohesive and coordinated response to the issue of displaced and refugee scientists. Its mission is to enhance the work and lives of refugee and displaced scientists globally, and to do so via an active international movement which promotes the protection of scientists, leading to better science and contributions to humanity.


This project will build a network to support the creation of opportunities for refugee, displaced and at-risk scholars. This goal is important because it’s the only way such trained experts will be able to stay up to date in their field and maintain meaningful careers, and also be in a position to help rebuild their countries once conditions allow. And until then, these professionals can be valuable assets for any country in which they arrive.

The project is a collaboration is between The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries (TWAS), the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) and the International Science Council under the umbrella of Science International.

Key Milestones

✅ The project, which was launched in June 2020, will involve an awareness-raising campaign dedicated to assisting scientists who have been rendered refugees or are otherwise displaced by crises in their home countries.

✅ The launch of the Science in Exile strategy and interim governance structure took place during the second stakeholders’ workshop on 30 March and 1 April 2021. A report from the meeting is here, and the agenda and other information is available here.

✅ A forum took place on 13 June as part of the Sustainability & Research Innovation Congress 2021: Scientists in Exile – A meta-view of the impact of ongoing uncertainty and risks for scientists and the production of science (Forum)

✅ Following a global call, a Steering Committee for the initiative was appointed in June 2021.

✅ The first meeting of the Steering Committee took place in July 2021.

✅ A series of webinars has been launched to raise awareness of and discuss key issues and challenges faced by at-risk, displaced and refugee scientists, and to support a stronger solidarity towards affected scientists. Each of the webinars focuses on a different stage of the displacement cycle.

✅ The 2021 TWAS-IsDB Young Refugee and Displaced Scientists Programme for Women was launched in 2021.

✅ The Science in Exile mapping survey has been launched. The aim of the survey is to map organisations and programmes globally – e.g., NGOs, institutions, universities, diaspora groups, government bodies and funders – that provide support to and opportunities for at-risk, displaced, and refugee scientists.

Funding Partner

Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency, Sida.

📨 Additional information is available on the TWAS website. For updates on Science in Exile activities, subscribe to the Newsletter. Access additional resources for at-risk, refugee and displaced scientists.