Research Consultant on Campus Speech

PEN seeks a consultant to research and write a report detailing current challenges to academic freedom and free speech on US university campuses. The report will focus on how universities are responding to challenges to certain kinds of speech on campus, particularly speech that is perceived as sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive to some within the university community. The report will also offer a detailed examination of campus policies that place constraints on speech and student demands that amount to constraints on speech, including demands to disinvite campus speakers, and disciplinary actions against faculty members accused of errant or offensive speech. 

The report will be based on secondary source research as well as extensive interviews with faculty members, student leaders, campus speakers, university administrators, and participants in protest actions, as well as documentation of decision-making processes to reveal the funding and political pressures, legal fears, and rankings concerns that are confining speech on campus. It will conclude with a series of recommendations designed to bridge the legitimate concerns of both campus advocates for racial, minority and other forms of justice and the most vociferous defenders of free speech. Work on the project will begin as soon as possible, with the report’s release anticipated for early Fall 2016.

Relevant experience will include:  experience as a journalist covering higher education or related subjects; experience researching and writing human rights reports or similar publications; experience conducting interviews.  

Qualifications:  superb writing skills; attention to detail; knowledge of free speech legal and policy issues; ability to work to deadline; investigative skills; desk research skills.

If interested, please contact Katy Glenn Bass, deputy director of free expression programs at PEN, at for further details.