About Us

The Knight First Amendment Institute defends the freedoms of speech and the press in the digital age through strategic litigation, research, and public education. We aim to promote a system of free expression that is open and inclusive, that broadens and elevates public discourse, and that fosters creativity, accountability, and effective self-government.

Established in 2016, the Institute has an active litigation docket that includes cutting-edge cases relating to government transparency, surveillance, and social media. Through its research program, the Institute has published a series of influential essays focused on emerging threats to the system of free expression. It has also hosted public events on new technology and public discourse, the First Amendment and inequality, and whistleblowers and national-security journalism. Over the next several years, the Institute will tackle a wide range of issues including the free-speech implications of private surveillance, the free-press implications of technology companies' terms of service, intermediary liability, the right of journalists to protect their sources, the right of citizens to record and broadcast police activity, encryption, and machine speech. 

The Research Programs Fellowship 

The Knight Institute seeks a recent undergraduate to work with the Institute as a research fellow. The research fellow will play an important role in building the Institute’s research program and contribute to all aspects of the Institute's work. The fellowship is a full-time, one-year position based at Columbia University in New York City. The Institute anticipates taking on one fellow for a term beginning in the fall of 2021. 


  1. Support the Institute's research and public education programs, including by drafting and editing reports, white papers, op-eds, and blog posts, conceiving of and implementing public programs, and representing the Institute in the media, as needed;
  2. Prepare research program materials for publication by fact-checking, proofreading, and formatting documents;
  3. Identify research questions related to the Institute’s mission and assist in designing and executing projects to explore them;
  4. Assist the Research Director in identifying and executing the research program’s medium and long-term priorities and goals;
  5. Experiment with new formats and media for presenting research findings to a broad audience.

*Please note that while the research fellow will be included in discussions about the Institute’s litigation docket, the fellow’s primary responsibilities will not include litigation-related tasks.


Minimum Qualifications
  • A bachelor’s degree and/or equivalent related experience;
  • A demonstrated interest in issues relating to the freedoms of speech and the press;
  • A strong academic record;
  • Superior research, analytical, writing, and interpersonal skills. 
Preferred Qualifications
  • Familiarity with the complex issues arising at the intersection of free speech and new technology;
  • Familiarity with computer science, computer programming, and/or the technology underlying online expression. 

How to Apply

Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as possible. The deadline for applications is March 19, 2021. Candidates must apply through Columbia University’s Careers website here.

Please include the following attachments:

  • One-page cover letter explaining your interest in the fellowship, including a description of any relevant life or work experience (Applicants who have access to external sources of funding should so indicate in their cover letter)
  • Resume 
  • Contact information for three references  
  • Official or unofficial school transcript 
  • One or two writing samples, at least one of which should demonstrate your research abilities
Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran
Columbia University is committed to the hiring of qualified local residents.