With the fall semester underway, the Institute is thrilled to officially welcome our 2023-2024 visiting senior research scholars: RonNell Andersen Jones, Sonja R. West, and Sam Lebovic.

While at the Institute, Andersen Jones—a professor of law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law—and West—a professor of First Amendment law at the University of Georgia School of Law—will investigate how to use law and policy to identify and protect the democracy-enhancing press functions. Andersen Jones and West often jointly write on press issues and have been published in numerous journals and law reviews. As part of their project at the Institute, they will commission a series of essays on the relationship between democracy and press freedom, and on safeguarding the press function in the U.S.

The Institute also welcomes Sam Lebovic, a professor of history at George Mason University. His teaching and research interests focus on the ways democratic life and the public sphere have been shaped by capitalism and imperialism in the 20th century. Most recently, his third and soon-to-be-published book, State of Silence: The Espionage Act and the Rise of America’s Secrecy Regime, looks at the history of this divisive law and how it was used to prosecute dissidents and information leakers during World War I.

During his tenure at the Knight Institute, Lebovic will explore the topic of public employee speech rights. He will convene a series of private workshops and public events that grapple with how the government ought to balance managing its employees’ speech with democratic values—tackling topics like protections for whistleblowers and government-funded researchers.

Both projects will culminate in major symposia in the spring of 2024 at Columbia University. Each symposium will feature new scholarship generated as part of the project, which we’ll subsequently publish on our website.

Read more about Andersen Jones and West’s project here.

Read more about Lebovic’s project here.

Learn more about the Knight Institute’s Visiting Research Scholars program here