Niagara University has joined the efforts to assist Afghan women fleeing persecution under the Taliban regime by launching an initiative that will provide them sanctuary on the NU campus. This collaborative effort of the university’s Justice House program, its Department of Political Science, and the offices of International Relations and Academic Affairs will welcome four exceptional women to join the NU community—two as visiting scholars and two as students.

Dr. David Reilly, chair of political science, learned of the effort through a request from Nobel Peace Prize nominee Betty Reardon, founder and director of the Peace Education Center and program at Teachers College, Columbia University, for institutions of higher learning to offer support to Afghan women. In response to this request, Dr. Reilly and the university’s administration worked quickly to establish the two visiting scholar positions and are finalizing support for full tuition and board for the students.

“As a Vincentian university, Niagara is especially focused on issues of social justice, both within our local community and around the world,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president. “When we learned of this important work to support Afghan women during this critical time, we immediately sought out ways we could assist in the endeavor.”

The visiting scholars will live in the university’s Roosevelt House and assist with courses associated with the Justice House program, a living and learning community centered on the pursuit of justice that empowers a select group of students to connect their passion for the Earth and the environment; social justice; and legal advocacy and justice to their life on campus—spanning the academic, residential, and social dimensions of the college experience. 

The women will share their expertise through lectures, work with individual students on research projects, develop curricula regarding gender rights and empowerment of women, and present on the role of international organizations in international development efforts. They will also offer course lectures in other departments across Niagara University’s colleges and will connect with regional refugee organizations to assist in building Niagara’s capacity to engage in initiatives involving migration.

The university is currently working to procure visas with the Institute of International Education and the US State Department for the two women who have been invited to serve as visiting scholars, and is anticipating that they will arrive on campus in early 2022.