Mondays, October 3 – 24, 2022
4:15 pm – 6:00pm ET


PEN America and the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) News Literacy Initiative are teaming up to co-host the first-ever News Literacy Ambassador Institute this fall. This four-week educational and training program offered both online and in-person at Penn State University certifies students as disinformation defense experts while teaching how to safely and productively navigate the free expression frontiers of the news media ecosystem. Our weekly schedule will include presentations led by PEN America staff and Penn State educators, interactive workshops designed to teach practical skills, and discussion sessions with activities to dive deeper into the issues with their peers.  Students who successfully complete the program will earn a certificate of professional achievement in news media literacy from PEN America and Penn State.


This program is FREE and available to all high school and college students. Full attendance and project completion is required to receive a certificate. Admissions will be decided on a rolling basis. The final deadline to have your application considered is Thursday, September 29 at 11:59 p.m E.T. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].




Niko Perez teaching a seminar at UTK


Engage in Four Advanced Seminars: 

  • Session 1: Decoding Shadows: Philosophy, Truth and our Relationship with Technology
  • Session 2: Mind Over Media: Healthy and Practical Approaches to News Literacy
  • Session 3: Digital Safety and Social Media Hygiene
  • Session 4:  Media Literacy, Accessibility, and Community Impact

students presenting at dc institute


Research Projects and Symposium

Participants will cap their experiences by working on research projects related to news media literacy that will be shared in an optional public symposium in-person at Penn State on Thursday, November 3rd. A virtual option for the symposium will be offered for students unable to attend the symposium in-person. 



Instructors from PEN America




headshot of Nicholas Perez

Program Manager, Free Expression and Education





Peris Tushabe headshot

Program Assistant, Free Expression and Education





Coordinator, U.S. Free Expression Programs


Instructors from Penn State




matthew jordan headshot

Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Film Production and Media Studies





sydney forde headshot

Doctoral Student, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to register?
The program is open to students in any year of high school or college. Penn State students interested in taking the program should email Sydney Forde directly at [email protected] and do not need to submit an application through PEN America.

Who should consider applying?
This advanced Institute program is ideal for students interested in pursuing academic and professional careers in advocacy, communications, humanities, journalism, and philosophy among other related subjects.

Do I have to be American to participate?
No. The Institute will be accessible to students anywhere in the world, via Zoom, and taught in English. Students must be available to attend all meeting sessions, which are listed in Eastern Time.

How will I know if I’ve been admitted?
Once you submit your application for admission, you will receive an email confirmation with a copy of your form responses.

How much does the program cost?
There is no cost to attend this program, however full attendance is required to receive a certificate at the end of the course.

Will I receive any school credit for the Institute?
Neither high school nor college credit will be granted for completing the Institute unless otherwise determined by a sponsoring institution. PEN America and Penn State will, however, award each student a Certificate of Professional Achievement in News Literacy upon completion of the course and the program offers excellent preparation and a relevant credential for future internships and work opportunities in the policy and advocacy realm. 

Will there be any homework assigned?
Background readings will be assigned that students are expected to complete before the start of each session. These readings will serve as the basis for each day’s discussion session. Throughout the program, students will be expected to collaborate outside of instructional hours on their research projects.

What supplies do I need to attend the Institute?
To participate in the Institute, students must have a working computer, a reliable internet connection, an email address for communication, and a Zoom account, which can be set up for free online. A notebook to write in as well as some writing utensils are also recommended for note-taking, and a printer is optional for printing out the reading materials for annotating.

Who are the instructors?
The Institute is managed by Nicholas “Niko” Perez and Peris Tushabe from PEN America’s Free Expression and Education program, as well as Professor Matthew Jordan and Sydney Forde from Penn State. The weekly schedule includes presentations and workshops from a range of experts and professionals across both PEN America and Penn State, including well-known researchers and advocates.


If you have any other questions, please email us at [email protected]