Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

Elif Çak Köm 2018

1. Introduction and Purpose

As members of Off-University - Organisation für den Frieden e.V. we are responsible for sustaining the highest ethical standards of the initiative and of the broader community in which we function. The association values integrity, independence and transparency and strives to integrate these values into all its activities including the question of funding.

1.1 What is the Code of Conduct?

The Code of Conduct (Code) translates Off University’s commitment to upholding ethical, professional and legal standards into rules and guidelines that we use as an orientation and the basis for our daily and long-term decisions and actions.

1.2. Who needs to comply with the Code of Conduct?

The Code applies to all members of the Off-University community as a guide for decision -making in line with the overall goals of our initiative. All members are accountable for upholding these standards of behaviour. The board of the association is responsible for using its powers to enforce this code. 

2. Our Vision and Mission

Off-University was founded to create new and emancipative opportunities for education and research. It was established for and by academics and students from Turkey yet addresses itself to a public all over the world: Academics who have been purged from their institutions, forced to resign, who are legally and politically persecuted and even imprisoned because of their opinion and research by anti-democratic regimes and those who seek to speak up against these practices in solidarity. Off-University's mission rests on a commitment to peace in the world and to living together in diversity. Off-University firmly takes a stance against discrimination, harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Off-University is an equal opportunity employer, and embraces human and civic liberties, and the fight against all forms of discrimination based on personal characteristics. Examples of such personal characteristics include but are not limited to race, religion, ethnicity, class, physical or mental disability, age, immigration or citizenship status, gender, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status, affectional or sexual orientation, pregnancy or medical condition. Making tolerance of discriminatory behavior or submission to it a condition of employment, evaluation, compensation, or advancement is not allowed. No person who makes a good faith report of a suspected violation will be reprimanded or retaliated against in any way.

Off-University therefore seeks to develop education and research activities that are less hierarchical and more democratic. It co-operates with persons and institutions sharing its approach. 

3. Integrity Statement

Off-University - Organisation für den Frieden e.V. recognizes that it must earn and maintain a reputation for integrity that includes, but is not limited to compliance with obligations of its by-laws, ethical standards and a commitment to a continuous, transparent funding as an essential part of upholding its activities. In building its structures, Off-University develops mechanisms safeguarding the active pursuit of its mission as laid out under 2. The principle of integrity also applies to the transparency of decisions and recommendations taken by boards and committees.

4. Academic Integrity

Our activities are conducted in line with our vision to contribute to a peaceful living together in the world. We commit ourselves to act independently and autonomously in terms of our (academic) content from any donors, partners of cooperation, governments and other political institutions, privileging our own principles, mission and integrity as an organisation over other possible advantages in any circumstances.

4.1. Autonomy of Off-University with regards to funders

Off-University has the authority to maintain its own affairs. Grants accepted from funders are only accepted on an unrestricted basis, meaning that Off-University alone determines the ideas and content included in the research and teaching materials created by the grant support. Off-University will provide the funders with progress reports as agreed in the contribution agreement. 

4.2. Independence of research at Off-University

The Off-University research and researchers are independent. Funders cannot exert any control over the content, method, or data to be used in the research. Researchers affiliated with the Off-University should take all measures to prevent interests of third-parties from influencing their research and teaching.

4.3. Research Policy

Appropriate organs of Off-University determine the research strategy and identify areas where Off-University concentrates its efforts. Research teams are responsible for deciding on research topics and methods matching identified research areas. Teams are independent in conducting the research the way they see fit. Responsibility for each paper’s content rests with its author(s). Research quality is routinely subjected to review. Researchers working with human subjects or samples taken from humans have to seek clearance from the Ethics Committee before starting the research project.

4.4. Teaching Policy

Teaching teams and teachers are responsible for deciding on course topics and methods. They are independent in conducting the teaching the way they see fit in the respective institutional setting. Responsibility for each course’s content rests with its author(s). Teaching quality is routinely subjected to review. All of the educational resources produced by Off-University are developed and/or reviewed by scholars selected for their knowledge about a particular subject. Research teams develop course ideas in collaboration with the appropriate organs of Off-University. 

4.5. Open Access Policy

Free and open access to the outputs of research offers significant social and political benefits as well as aiding the development of new research. Off-University is committed to ensuring that published research findings should be freely accessible. To achieve this goal, Off-University will develop an Open Access policy to ensure that research organised by its bodies is in open access journals available to the public free of charge that additionally fit to the stipulations under

5. ‘Zivilklausel’

5.1. Peace-oriented research, teaching and studies

Off-University's mission rests on a commitment to peace in the world and to living together in diversity. Research, teaching and studies at Off-University exclusively pursue peaceful goals and serve civilian purposes. Research – particularly relating to the development and optimisation of technical systems – as well as studies and teaching at Off-University are exclusively focused on civilian use. Research at Off-University thus excludes all kinds of research with military and defence purposes as well as dual-use research. Dual-use research is research that can be anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that can be used for both civilian and military applications.

5.2. Peace-orientation and ethics of funding

A strict civilian orientation also applies to Off-University’s sources of funding. Off-University and its members will not accept or seek funding from sources involved in the development, production and commercialization of military and defence items or dual-use items. Off-University is committed to reject any funding from producers of military, defence, and dual-use items, and from related funding agencies.

5.3. Implementation procedure

The implementation of Off-University’s Zivilklausel relies on a culture of reflection and responsibility on the part of the members of Off-University. The topic is complex (broad definition and ambiguity of ‘dual-use’) and will always remain work in progress as institutional and business frameworks change. It demands the kind of close examination that is not geared to globally “allow” or “prohibit” research and funding but aims at detailed consideration of funding sources and research planned. This requires constant awareness critical self-reflection. The implementation procedure seeks to reflect this fundamental idea.Off-University forms an Ethics Committee. Any member of Off-University can turn to this committee to clarify cases through consultation or recommendation, and seek counselling to support self-assessment. This committee reaches decisions by consensus. The Ethics Committee sets up ethical guidelines and makes them accessible to parties interested. The committee is nominated by the board of Off-University for the duration of one year, and is comprised exclusively of members of Off-University - Organisation für den Frieden e.V.

To ensure the peace-orientation of research, teaching and studies at Off-University, we will implement a system for individual self-assessment by each person involved in these activities. The main implementation tool are the ethical guidelines issued by the ethics committee, which researchers and educators shall use in advance of a project/course to reassure themselves and to clarify potential aspects of their work that may touch upon the Code of Conduct. A strictly civilian orientation of funding for Off-University will be pursued through close scrutiny of funding agencies’ goals and sources on a case-by-case basis. Off-University relies on a proper and responsible analysis of all available information on funding sources and funding agencies’ stated goals, to be conducted prior to each funding application. Each applicant is responsible for this task him- or herself. 

6. Donors and Transparency

Off-University is committed to transparency and open about its sources of funding. Off-University will disclose its annual income display funding details. Contributions that exceed an amount of one thousand Euros will be named openly, and the exact amount of funding they provide will be declared. Contributors under serious political threat or pressure may not be named if the Ethical Committee sees so fit. Off-University will publish an annual financial report showing the annual income and expenditure.

7. Working Relations in Off-University

7.1. General Guidelines with regards to employment in Off-University

With regards to paid staff, Off-University’s official and elected shadow board takes on the role of employer. In this capacity the board is responsible for taking and communicating employment-related decisions, as well as giving regular feedback on the employee’s work. In line with Off-University’s mission, the board is also expected to co-introduce mechanisms with the employees that allow for mutual feedback and the improvement of working relations.

Off-University is an equal opportunity employer. Tolerating or enacting discrimination  as a condition of employment, evaluation, compensation, or advancement is not allowed. No person who makes a good faith report of a suspected violation will be reprimanded or retaliated against in any way.

7.2. Implementation Procedure

In case of a grievance, both employee and employer can turn to the Ethics Committee for counselling and clarify their concerns through consultation and guided assessment. In the face of conflict, the Ethics Committee takes on the role of a neutral mediator who listens to both sides and gives advice on how to respond to the grievance taking the Code of Conduct as a base for their decisions.

The ethics committee deals with the cases raised by any party. It collects statements from all parties and acts as a mediator, faciliator and, if necessary arbitrator for the solution of the conflict at hand. In conclusion, it authors a text summarizing what happened and explaining the situation from the perspective of all parties involved. After this, the involved parties are approached again and asked if they are content with the outcome. If any party is not happy the General Assembly votes on whether there is need for a further investigation. If such need is decided, a new independent committee is formed for the particular case as final internal arbitrator.

(Version 15.08.2020, adopted at Annual Meeting 2020, Berlin)