Contact: Rachel Egli
Director of Events
and Continuing Legal Education
Office: (405) 325-2011
NORMAN — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a $50,000 investment to fund a University of Oklahoma College of Law project led by Evelyn Mary Aswad, OU law professor and Herman G. Kaiser Chair in International Law. The grant supports comparative research between the First Amendment and international human rights law’s protections for speech online.
“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to pursue research into these two bodies of law and how their similarities and differences may have implications for online content moderation,” Aswad said.
Aswad’s comparative research is one of 20 projects that received $1.7 million today from the Knight Foundation, all of which will focus on research to inform the public conversation on current issues in technology policy, including free expression online and the scale and power of digital platforms. The awards mark the culmination of the Knight Foundation’s $50 million commitment to catalyze new research to inform how technology is transforming democracy.
A focus of Aswad’s scholarship has been on social media platforms and the future of speech online. Her course on International Business and Human Rights includes an examination of corporate responsibility and online platforms. Her Human Rights Practicum course provides students with experiential learning based on comparative approaches to freedom of expression.
As the director of OU Law’s Center for International Business and Human Rights, Aswad has also brought many guest speakers from industry, civil society and government to speak to students about technology, human rights and democracy.
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What led you to OU Law? I have wanted to go to law school since I was a teenager. I was active in speech contests and enjoyed making oral presentations. When I was in high school, I would go downtown and watch some of the trials at the courthouse, so, I got acquainted with the courtroom rather early. I obtained a Navy scholarship to go to OU. I was a regular Navy midshipman then I served three years in the far east before coming back to law school. I wanted to attend law school and came back to OU.
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What led you to OU Law? OU Law has been part of my family since the 1920s. My great uncle was Dr. Maurice Merrill, a 1922 graduate of OU Law who then earned a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University in 1925. Merrill taught at OU Law for 30 years, published numerous seminal works in oil and gas law, constitutional law, administrative law and the law of Notice. While still in his twenties, Merrill published the seminal treatise Implied Covenants in Oil and Gas Law, which has been a cornerstone of my cases. In law school, I lived with Uncle Maurice and marveled at his longhand scrawl which was literally final copy in its first draft form. In my mind, he will always be ten times the lawyer that I ever became.