The Free Speech Project at Georgetown University has worked to examine Free Speech on a national scale, documenting incidents in which First Amendment values have been challenged or compromised. By assembling and analyzing instances in which expression was suppressed, the project hopes to understand broader national trends around Free Speech today.
The Free Speech Project also offers in depth curriculum materials allowing educators to harness the project’s findings to spark classroom discussions about the current condition of Free Speech and the implementation of time-honored principles in complicated legal, political, and cultural times. The CNDLS team began its collaboration with the project in 2017 to create a prototype of the Free Speech Tracker which allowed the project team to pin incidents on a map. Based on this successful prototype and support from foundations like the Knight Foundation (among others), the project then evolved into its current version which is the result of a successful collaboration between CNDLS and the Free Speech Project Team.
CNDLS led the design and development of the project website, the curriculum materials and the tracker thereby ensuring a cohesive user experience. In order to create such an experience and platform, CNDLS and the Free Speech Project team engaged in design sessions where the teams would quickly iterate on designs, information architecture and user journeys to name a few. A key element of the project is the Free Speech Tracker, a seamless integration between custom WordPress elements, Leaflet and Google Maps. A user can easily search for a topic like "Identity" and quickly get a selection of the tracked events that relate to identity, additionally the tracker also provides the related curricular materials on a topic.
Additionally, the project hosts forums focusing on particular topics in Free Speech — from the intersection of speech and national security to the Free Speech rights of incarcerated people — in an effort to bring the conversation to Georgetown’s campus and a large online audience as well. The Free Speech Project is a student- and faculty-run initiative.