The Knight Institute’s research program aims to foster interdisciplinary scholarship and commentary about the First Amendment, particularly on issues relating to new technology. We host visiting fellows and scholars from multiple disciplines, and we publish essays representing a broad range of perspectives.

The Institute advances its own positions through litigation, as well as through our Policy Papers. Through our research program, we explore a broader array of questions, and we afford scholars and practitioners the opportunity to develop and present positions that are sometimes different from our own. We do this both to enrich public debate and to deepen our own understanding of the First Amendment. We aim to publish pieces that are well-argued, well-informed, and provocative.

The research program’s largest component is our Visiting Research Scholars program, through which we partner with scholars to carry out major research initiatives. In collaboration with Knight Institute staff, Visiting Scholars develop projects—ranging from essay series to major public events—in the areas of their interests and expertise. Visiting Scholars retain ultimate editorial control of these projects, but Institute staff work closely with them to bring the projects to fruition.

Over the past five years, the Institute has published more than 60 pieces of original scholarship and hosted four major symposiums and dozens of other programs and public discussions. Institute research initiatives have illuminated emerging threats to, and probed inequalities in, the system of free expression; examined how the power of major technology companies over public discourse, and the aggregation of massive amounts of data in both government and private hands, are impacting free speech; considered how the First Amendment might be reimagined and fortified in the digital age; and explored the viability and promise of digital public infrastructure.