Scholars at Risk is an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission is to protect threatened scholars and promote academic freedom around the world. It does so with a focus on three pillars – protection, advocacy, and learning – and the organization provides sanctuary and assistance to more than 300 threatened scholars around the world every year.
Each year, Scholars at Risk seeks to bring together educators, students, and scholars from around the globe to network, talk about the challenges they face, and learn from one another at the Scholars at Risk: Free to Think symposium. JDC Events had previously worked with the organization in years past to develop, produce, and manage this in-person event, but the rise of COVID-19 prevented the organization from hosting the annual event in person as usual in 2020. Having experienced positive attendee engagement virtually in 2020, the organizers decided to host the event virtually once again in 2021.
As in previous years, Scholars at Risk enlisted the assistance of JDC Events to develop the event concept, select the platform, arrange production of secondary content, manage production, and direct and support the event.
The JDC team worked with the organization to shorten the program from what once was a two-day event into a multi-session one-day event. The run of show included four breakout sessions – each with multiple speakers – that culminated in one general session, all of which was required to be live. To avoid the potential for technical issues in the live event, the JDC team suggested a change of platform, which required completely rebuilding the event’s website and redirecting all the session links. The JDC team was able to successfully make these changes, rebuild the website, and redirect the links well before it had to go live without any interruption to attendees. Just as significantly, the team was able to update the program’s platform and concept while staying within budget.
As a result of the significant planning and program design, the Scholars at Risk Free to Think 2021 virtual symposium was successfully held with more than 350 registrants engaged throughout the live sessions.