Past Public Forums


Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Public Health: Emerging Tensions and Technologies during COVID-19:

In April 2020, the Free Speech Project and PEN America c0-hosted an online forum on the ethical and public policy dilemmas at the intersection of civil liberties and the global response to COVID-19.David Cole, national legal director, American Civil Liberties Union

Panelists included Eileen Donahoe, executive director, Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center; Robyn Greene, privacy and public policy manager, Facebook; Patricia J. Williams, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities, Northeastern University

Moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University. Hosted by Matt Bailey, Digital Freedom Program Director at PEN America

Forum recorded April 30, 2020.

Should the United States Be Attempting to Spread First Amendment Values, especially Free Speech, around the World?

The Free Speech Project, in partnership with the Voice of America, held a public forum in Riggs Library at Georgetown University on January 30, 2020, on the topic “Exporting the First Amendment: Noble Mission, Impractical Quest, or Just Plain Wrong?”

Panelists included: Fitsum Arega, Ethiopian ambassador to the United States; Karen DeYoung, associate editor and senior national security correspondent for The Washington Post; Nirmal Ghosh, U.S. bureau chief for The Straits Times of Singapore; Trudy Rubin, foreign affairs columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board.

Moderated by Amanda Bennett, director of the Voice of America and Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project.

This audio recording of the proceedings begins with an introduction and welcome by John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University.

FALL 2019

Social Media and the First Amendment:

In September 2019, the Free Speech Project and the Knight First Amendment Initiative at Columbia University hosted an impassioned forum on the confluence of online privacy, regulation, and rights. Katie Fallow, Senior Staff Attorney, Knight First Amendment Institute.

Panelists included: Sarah Jeong, Journalist and editorial board member, The New York Times; Jeff Kosseff, Cybersecurity Law Professor at U.S. NavalAcademy and author of The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet; Lori Moylan, Public Policy, Facebook; Kara Swisher, Co-Founder of Recode and contributing opinion writer, The New York Times

Moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University

Forum recorded on Sept. 23, 2019 in historic Gaston Hall.


Inside Voices: The Free Speech Rights of Incarcerated Americans

In April 2019, the Free Speech Project and the Georgetown University Prisons and Justice Initiative hosted a lively forum that explored the reasons behind and implications of censoring the voices of the incarcerated.

Panelists included Bill Keller, Editor-in-Chief, The Marshall Project; Amy Fettig, Deputy Director, ACLU Prisons Project; Robert Green, Director, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, Montgomery County, Maryland; Sekwan Merritt, Paralegal, Arnold and Porter; Joel Castón, Incarcerated Resident of the D.C. Jail (by Skype/phone).

Moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, and Marc Howard, Director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative at Georgetown University.

Fall 2018

Secrets and Leaks: Whistleblowers, Journalists, and National Security:

The Free Speech Project at Georgetown University and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University held a joint forum in Gaston Hall on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. The objective was to explore the important, but perennially uneasy, relationship among reporters, their confidential sources inside the government, and other officials, especially on issues of foreign affairs and national defense policy — and to ask how the public interest can best be served in this critical area at a volatile moment for American civil society.

Panelists included Martin Baron, Executive Editor, The Washington Post; Carrie Cordero, Georgetown Law School, and former counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Jameel Jaffer, Executive Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University; Alberto Mora, Director, Global Programs, American Bar Association, and former General Counsel, Department of the Navy; Laura Poitras, Filmmaker, Journalist, and Executive Producer, Field of Vision.

Forum recorded Sept. 24, 2018, at 7 p.m. in historic Gaston Hall.


Free Speech Legacies: The Pentagon Papers Revisited

The two-day symposium was co-sponsored by Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, included a public conversation between Daniel Ellsberg and Sanford J. Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project.

The conference also featured three panels on the legal legacy of the Pentagon Papers case; the paradigm shift it brought about in government-media relations on national security matters; and the climate today, in the fast-paced internet era, for the publication of classified government information.

Panelists included: Benjamin A. Powell – WilmerHale; former General Counsel, Director of National Intelligence; David Sanger – National Security Correspondent, The New York Times; Bob Woodward – Investigative Journalist, The Washington Post; Martin Baron – Executive Editor, The Washington Post; Susan Hennessey – Brookings Institution and Managing Editor, Lawfare Blog; former attorney, National Security Agency; J. Patrick Rowan – McGuireWoods; former Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Floyd Abrams – First Amendment lawyer, Cahill Gordon & Reindel; David Cole – National Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union; George Freeman – Executive Director, Media Law Resource Center.

The discussions were moderated by Jeanne Meserve – The Communication Center; former correspondent, CNN and ABC; Ellen Gorman – Lecturer, English Department, Georgetown University; and Sanford J. Ungar –Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Georgetown University, and Lumina Foundation Fellow.

Forum(s) recorded on Feb. 16 and 17, 2017, in the Intercultural Center Auditorium and the Copley Formal Lounge.

FALL 2017

The Shadow of Charlottesville:

The panel explored the events of Aug. 12, 2017, and how and why they became violent.

Panelists included: Timothy Longo, Former Chief of Police, City of Charlottesville, Virginia; DeRay Mckesson, Civil Rights Activist and Host, “Pod Save the People”; Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C.; Paula Xinis, Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Moderated by Sanford J. Ungar, Director of the Free Speech Project

Forum recorded on Oct. 30, 2017, at 7 p.m. in historic Gaston Hall.