Jonathan Friedman is the director of free expression and education at PEN America, where he oversees advocacy, analysis, and outreach concerning educational communities and academic institutions. In this role, he drives forward PEN America’s efforts to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through education and advocacy for the rising generation and the general public.
Friedman oversees the Free Speech Advocacy Institute for youth and leads advocacy related to academic freedom, campus free speech, educational gag order legislation, and book bans in schools. He served as lead author on PEN America’s reports, Educational Gag Orders: Legislative Restrictions on the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach (2021) and Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America (2019), as well as on the production of the Campus Free Speech Guide. He regularly provides commentary for news media and has published op-eds for CNN, The Washington Post, and the New York Daily News. Friedman has facilitated workshops and conducted advisory meetings with senior leaders, faculty, and students at dozens of colleges and universities, and was a 2019-2020 fellow of the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.
An interdisciplinary scholar by training, Friedman has published sociological research on universities, nationalism, and globalization, and taught courses at New York University (NYU), Columbia University, and Bard College’s Open Society University Network. Formerly, he was part of a research team examining the production of knowledge on world regions at the Social Science Research Council, and served as administrative director of the Multinational Institute of American Studies, an exchange program for international scholars. He holds an MA and Ph.D. in international education from NYU, and has received awards for his teaching, research, and leadership.