Jonathan Peters recognized with Russell Award

Jonathan Peters recognized with Russell Award

April 05, 2021
Carolyn Payton

Jonathan Peters, associate professor of journalism, is one of three University of Georgia faculty members named a recipient of the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. The award recognizes outstanding instruction by faculty members early in their academic careers.

Peters teaches communication law courses to undergraduate and graduate students and has a courtesy appointment with the School of Law.

The Russell Foundation established the Russell Awards during the 1991-1992 academic year to honor the late U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell. The awards include a $10,000 cash award.

“Recipients of the Russell Awards exemplify the commitment to innovative and engaging instruction that makes the University of Georgia one of America’s leading public universities,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I congratulate this year’s honorees and appreciate their dedication to our students.”

In addition to Peters, two other UGA faculty members are being recognized with the Russell Award: Jennifer Birch, associate professor of anthropology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Emily Sahakian, associate professor of theatre and film studies, and of Romance languages in the Franklin College.

Jonathan Peters at a reception in his honor when he was named the 2019 Journalism Teacher of the Year. (Photo: Sarah Freeman)

Peters is an internationally recognized expert in mass communication law who encourages, guides and challenges his students to think critically and creatively about legal problems and their solutions. He uses humor and innovative assessments to bring to life all manner of difficult concepts. In addition to communication law, Peters has taught both feature writing and travel writing, the latter in Prague, and he has co-taught a First-Year Odyssey Seminar exploring free expression on university campuses.

His impact and influence go well beyond the classroom. Peters is a co-author of “The Law of Public Communication,” a widely adopted textbook, and is a press freedom correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review. Peters is a frequent commentator on First Amendment issues for The New York TimesThe Washington PostVanity Fair, NPR, CNN, NBC News and CBS News. Student journalists, at UGA and beyond, regularly seek his assistance for public-record requests and for reviews of story drafts.

Peters also advises countries around the world on press freedom issues. Late 2020, he consulted with media professionals and members of the Supreme Court of the Republic of in Uzbekistan on press freedom topics and in 2018, he helped develop legal guidelines for press rights in Poland.

Grady College recognized Peters in 2019 as its Journalism Teacher of the Year, and in 2017 he was selected as an Online Learning Fellow, allowing him to adapt his communication law course to be taught online for the first time. Outside the university, he recently served as the elected teaching chair of the Law and Policy Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Nominations for the Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching are submitted by deans and considered by a committee of senior faculty members and undergraduate students. Tenure-track faculty members who have worked at UGA for at least three years and no more than 10 years are eligible for the award.