Global Freedom of Expression

9 March

The Collapse of Free Expression? A Roundtable

  • 1:00pm-2:30pm ET (New York)
  • Riverside Church, Conference Room 527 (5th Floor of the MLK Tower) AND Online
    91 Claremont Ave
    New York, NY 10027
    United States

Freedom of expression has been theorized as an individual right in the context of print, radio and TV. The digital ecosystem, however, is challenging the liberal rationale based on tolerance, ethical neutrality, and pluralism of views. Professor Pujol in his book The Collapse of Freedom of Expression: Reconstructing the Ancient Roots of Modern Liberty, examines the sustainability of the free speech liberal tradition through some emblematic cases from the U.S. and Europe (Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech on Campus, Tech content moderation, etc.) that show some important fractures within the liberal tradition of freedom of expression: weaponization of speech, the threat of new orthodoxies banning dissent and compelling speech, or a new-school censorship on the internet, among others. Paradoxically, multiple court cases in the U.S. contradict the general support of Free Speech rights in the US shown by the Knight Foundation. This paradox challenges the foundational principles of the liberal tradition such as tolerance, neutrality of the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas. A panel of scholars from different disciplines (law, history, sociology, journalism and ethics) will discuss the architecture of Freedom of Expression and the threats to its sustainability in the digital age.


  • Jordi Pujol, Professor of Media Ethics and Law (Pontifical University of Santa Croce, Rome)
  • Richard R. John, Professor of History and Communications (Columbia University, NY)
  • Hawley Johnson, Associate Director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression
  • Michael Schudson, Professor of Journalism and (affiliated faculty) Sociology (Columbia University, NY)

This event was co-sponsored by the Columbia Journalism School.