Nobel laureate, democracy advocate Maria Ressa to speak at Keough School

Author: Josh Stowe

Maria Ressa, a Filipino-American journalist and Nobel laureate known for her work to defend democracy and combat disinformation, has been named a distinguished policy fellow in the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs.

A former CNN bureau chief and correspondent in Jakarta and Manila, Ressa co-founded the Philippines-based news site Rappler in 2012 with three other women. The company earned recognition for fighting fake news and spotlighting human rights abuses by the regime of former Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte. In 2021, she was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Maria Ressa is well known for her brave work to address democratic backsliding and disinformation, two worrisome and interconnected trends that increasingly pose threats around the world,” said Andrés Mejía Acosta, the Keough School’s Kuster Family Associate Dean for Policy and Practice. “We are honored to highlight her expertise as part of our school’s policy-relevant work to strengthen global democracy through teaching, research and experiential student learning.”

Ressa will serve as keynote speaker at the March 14 digital democracy symposium at the Keough School Washington Office. The event will bring together academics, industry representatives, think tanks and governmental agencies to consider how digital technologies can facilitate public discussion of policy issues and synthesize a wide range of insights. The symposium will also feature Lisa Schirch, Richard G. Starmann, Sr. Professor of the Practice of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and a Keough School faculty expert in digital peacebuilding.

Following the Washington event, Ressa will spend a week on Notre Dame’s campus, where she will meet with Keough School faculty, students and visiting fellows from the school’s institutes. On March 20, she will join University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., to take part in the 2023-24 Notre Dame Forum, which is focused on the future of democracy.

Ressa’s visit amplifies the Keough School’s commitment to integral human development — advancing the human dignity of all people and the whole person — through its work on democracy and governance. This is a core research focus for the school, along with sustainability and environmental justice, poverty and peacebuilding,

Ressa is the Keough School’s latest distinguished policy fellow, continuing a tradition that enables the school to engage with prominent global policymakers on areas of strategic importance. The inaugural policy fellow, former Colombian president and fellow Nobel laureate Juan Manuel Santos, helped negotiate a historic peace agreement that ended his country’s 52-year armed conflict.

Ressa’s engagement with the Keough School is the latest chapter in her relationship with Notre Dame. After authorities in the Philippines convicted her of cyberlibel in 2020 — an attempt to silence her for speaking out — she enlisted Notre Dame law and global affairs professor Diane Desierto to represent her for her appeal at the Philippine Supreme Court. And in 2023, she served as the distinguished speaker for the Asia Leadership Forum, sponsored by the Keough School’s Liu Institute and by Notre Dame International.


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Originally published by Josh Stowe at on February 22, 2024.