First Amendment

The First Amendment at Greenlee

The freedoms of the First Amendment — speech, press, petition, assembly, religion — represent the foundation of our democracy. We the people are not able to govern ourselves without the ability to know what is happening in our society. That is why the press is the only profession explicitly named and protected by the Constitution.

Promoting an understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment and the role of journalism and communication in all societies is one of the core principles of the Greenlee School’s mission statement

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” —Bill of Rights, Dec. 15, 1791

students in front of a mosaic at First Amendment Days

Events and Programming

Iowa State University’s First Amendment Series was created by the Greenlee School in fall 2018 in recognition of the growing number of events, lectures and activities on campus focused on First Amendment education and awareness. What started as a single day in 2003 dedicated to celebrating the five freedoms of the First Amendment has expanded into First Amendment Days—a weeklong signature celebration hosted by the school every April—and a lineup of First Amendment activities scheduled throughout the academic year.

Why do we do this? One-third of Americans cannot name a single one of the five freedoms of the First Amendment and, even more concerning, almost one-third think the First Amendment “goes too far” in the freedom it protects, according to the Freedom Forum Institute’s 2019 State of the First Amendment Survey. Our creative and diverse First Amendment programming is an effective way to increase education and understanding about the five freedoms.

Upcoming Events Past Events


First Amendment Days 2020

Celebrate with us! First Amendment Days is April 6-10, 2020. Events will take place all week on the Iowa State University campus, and activities are free and open to the public. Join us for annual traditions like the Democalypse March and the Feast on the First on Thursday, April 9.

Now in its 18th year, First Amendment Days is the longest-running continual student-led First Amendment celebration at any university in the U.S.

The full schedule will be available in spring 2020. Stay tuned for more details.


panel presentation in a classroom

Special Topics Course

The Greenlee School is offering a Spring 2020 special topics course, ADVRT/P R/JL MC 497D—First Amendment Freedoms and Conflicts: Know your rights. This course will examine the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment and how they work within current social conflicts. Students will explore the theories and case law behind the freedom of speech, press, petition, assembly, religion and consider how each freedom works in practice. Does the First Amendment still provide the foundation for democracy? Or have our freedoms eroded over time? This course will focus on finding a balance between rights and responsibilities when it comes to expressing ourselves. This course will blend classroom learning with online instruction and field experiences. The prerequisite is junior classification.


First Amendment Specialist

As First Amendment Specialist, adjunct assistant professor Julie Roosa heads up the Greenlee School’s First Amendment teaching and outreach activities.

Do you have a question related to an upcoming First Amendment Series event? Would you like to discuss the possibility of partnering on a First Amendment initiative? Are you looking for an expert to present on a topic related to the First Amendment? Contact Roosa at jroosa@iastate.edu.

First Amendment Committee Resources