We are a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities. We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged. To reverse this process, we have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy.
Recent Blog Posts
FIRE intern and student activist Erin Dunne advocated for drug reform and marijuana legalization at the University of Michigan. As a result she was fired from Residence Staff. Dunne writes about how this experience helped her gain appreciation for freedom of speech.
California State University, Los Angeles, changed its speech code to avoid a lawsuit in which CSULA was accused of limiting free speech by adding a security fee for controversial speakers. In another victory for free speech, Danny LeDonne (and ACLU) won a suit against his former employer Adams State University, who characterized his criticism of the university as “harassment” and “terrorism.
Finally, there’s little transparency in the work of bias response teams, but here’s a transcript of a bias response team conversation with a censored professor at the University of Northern Colorado. The professor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said “We had a cordial visit, but Parks [the administrator] definitely used... Read more →
HXA member John McWhorter published a thought provoking (and provocative) piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week. It is behind a paywall, but we wanted to convey some of the key ideas to our audience. The article posits that the ongoing call for a conversation about race is more about the need for conversion of thought, rather than a true exchange of ideas.
The current mantra, McWhorter explains, is that “until we have that conversation, tragic disparities in income, education, employment, and health care will persist between blacks and other Americans.” He continues by pointing out that there is an idea in this country “that on race there is always a shoe that hasn’t dropped, that a certain vaguely articulated Great Day has yet to come in which whites realize their culpability [in the aforementioned disparities] and in some way act upon it…”
McWhorter contextualizes... Read more →
Political orthodoxy and lack of viewpoint diversity in the academy is now a well known problem, thanks in large part to Heterodox Academy and the many scholars who contribute to the site. Yet even Jonathan Haidt–one of the more productive combatants of this growing trend–will admit that intolerance to opposing ideas and the spread of victimhood culture “has its roots in high school” (see Haidt’s The Yale Problem Begins in High School). While Haidt discusses experiences he had with faculty and students at elite schools, as an English teacher at a public high school, I can personally attest that the problem has also been exacerbated by public education policy and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
First, a bit of background. In 2009, Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competitive grant funded by the Education Recovery Act, incentivized states to adopt the CCSS. Opting-in would... Read more →
This post was originally published at Psychology Today.
A few months ago, I posted a blog post that raised the question, “What explains racial, gender, and other group-based gaps?” After acknowledging the existence of all sorts of gaps across all sorts of groups, I ended that blog post posing this question:
If a university admitted 70% of the men who applied, and only 30% of the women who applied, and the men and women were exactly equally qualified, would that be conclusive evidence that that university was engaging in sex discrimination?
The answer is “no.” Before I explain why, let’s have some fun first by giving a concrete example of why answering this type of question is so important.Read more →
This is a guest post by Russell Jacoby from the Department of History at UCLA.
Professor Jussim has asked me to comment on the rejoinder to my piece “Academe is Overrun by Liberals. So What?” (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 1, 2016), which he authored with Professors Woessner and Crawford. In the spirit of collegiality, I will make a few points, beginning with the observation that the headline for the essay was, of course, not my own—and does not capture its drift. Yes, certain fields at certain schools are “overrun” by liberals, but I am not convinced this is generally true—or generally matters. I noted that almost all the studies I have seen on faculty political loyalties focus on the humanities and social sciences, and exclude medical, science, engineering, and business schools, which is where the real clout resides. Why this exclusion? Woessner, et al have nothing to say about... Read more →
Does philosophy have a woman problem? The pattern of degrees, and evidence from hiring, suggests that the answer is no. Video, transcript and evidence, from Christina Hoff Sommers. In 2014, women earned 28% of the PhDs in philosophy. By contrast, they earned close to 60% in English, anthropology, and sociology—and 75% in psychology. When it comes to gender, philosophy looks more like math and physics. What explains the numbers?... Read more →
I am a professor at Brown University. The WeTheInternet (WTI) video describes events at that will alarm anyone who cares about higher education and, especially, those of us who care deeply about Brown. The central conflict presented is roughly (and, I would say, purportedly) between the values of free inquiry and social justice.
At Brown, as elsewhere, each of those values has a long and complex history. The recent events at Brown did not come out of nowhere. Different people might tell the history that led to these events in sharply divergent ways. I would like to share my perspective on recent events at Brown. By sharing my story, I hope to help readers of this blog deepen their understanding... Read more →
A study on conservatism and “psychoticism” was retracted (UPDATE: corrected with an published erratum) earlier this year, when the researchers reported that they wrongly coded a variable. Their data actually showed a positive correlation between liberalism and “psychoticism.” Psychoticism here simply means less respect for rules and order, and hence the scare quotes. Jesse Singal investigated further, and has a new story on why it took four years for the retraction to occur.
The Aspen Ideas Festival and The Atlantic hosted a debate entitled “Academic Freedom, Safe Spaces, Dissent, and Dignity,” with representatives from Yale, Wesleyan, Mizzou, and the University of Chicago. Also present were Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADAL; Kirsten Powers, author of The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech; and Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of FIRE. Conor Friedersdorf reported on the highlights of the debate for The Atlantic.
Are the free-speech attitudes of college students also found in the population at large? Foundation... Read more →
Brooklyn College professor Mitchell Langbert published an investigation of the academic field of Industrial Relations (known as IR). Langert’s article appeared in Econ Journal Watch, which I edit. He used voter-registration data, political contributions data, and journal content analysis to show the left orientation of the field. IR scholars tend overwhelmingly to write good things about unions and about regulation, and overwhelmingly to be Democrats. Does the field suffer from left-oriented groupthink? Read more →
As a high school teacher approaching my third year, I look back in despair when I think about how little of what I learned in graduate school was actually connected to the craft of teaching or to what goes on in real classrooms. My experience in the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program at Ithaca College is a mirror to a larger trend: that today’s programs seem to focus more on indoctrinating prospective educators into the “social justice” faith, thereby creating more ideological homogeneity throughout the field. I post my story at Heterodox Academy in order to expand the discussion around the impact of intellectual orthodoxy in teacher-training degree and certificate programs.Read more →
In The New York Times’ Gray Matter section on July 3rd, I had the chance to elaborate on earlier work shared on the Heterodox Academy site where I first showed that faculty members in our colleges and universities have shifted ideologically to the left since the 1990s. Figure 1 presents another view of that trend but this time presents the ratio of liberal faculty to conservative faculty. While liberal faculty have always outnumbered conservative faculty, the figure makes it clear that since 1995, the relative number of liberals on campuses has been increasing. The liberal-conservative ratio among faculty was roughly 2 to 1 in 1995. By 2004 that figure jumped to almost 3 to 1. While seemingly insignificant, that represents a 50% decline in conservative identifiers on campuses. After 2004, the ratio changed even more dramatically and by 2010, was close to 5 to 1 nationally. This shows that... Read more →
One of the basic missions of a university is to prepare its students to be informed citizens capable of participating in an open and democratic society. That requires learning a wide range of ideas, and engaging with some of the most widespread perspectives and arguments on the controversial issues facing one’s society. Yet, increasingly, American universities are failing to present a wide range of views; often they make it hard for students with non-orthodox viewpoints to speak up. Politically orthodox education is bad for citizenship and bad for society.
Recently, Charles Lipson suggested 5 ways that universities could protect free speech on campus and re-establish an open society where freedom of thought is valued and celebrated.Read more →
Heterodox Academy readers will most likely agree that valuable forms of diversity have been imperiled by developments I elaborate in this Perspectives on Political Science article. Because of my article’s “controversial and timely” themes, Taylor & Francis is allowing the public to read and download it, at no cost [click here to download]–until August 28.
The article begins by discussing the debate about Fisher v. University of Texas, which the Supreme Court decided last week. Although I am comfortable with the outcome, I think Alito’s dissent was sharper than the majority opinion. David Cole provides an illuminating critique of the dissent in NYRB; Cole, along with several justices and hordes of professors, apparently believes the Court should no longer apply a “strict scrutiny” standard in determining whether public policies/laws that discriminate in favor of African-Americans and Latinos are consistent with the Equal Protection... Read more →
The recent push for safe spaces on college campuses and the need to insulate academic environments from dissenting viewpoints are debates dominating the current newscycle. However, a 2009 Arizona Appeals Court decision (Rodriguez v. Maricopa County Community College) has much to inform this ongoing discussion. The decision written by Chief Justice Alex Kozinski has a number of quotes that directly reflects the mission of Heterodox Academy:Read more →
A special New York Times Education supplement is out today, with notable contributions by John Palfrey on diversity and free expression, and Abby Ellin on the protection of free speech. There’s also a piece by Frank Bruni on how exorbitant tuition costs can create student entitlement.
Nicholas Christakis has a piece on inclusion as well. Christakis was personally affected by a political controversy at Yale, where he teaches in the sociology and medicine departments. Here is an excerpt from his piece:
Open, extended conversations among students themselves are essential not only to the pursuit of truth but also to deep moral learning and to righteous social progress. The faculty must step up and show students a way forward: to learn to be harder on the problems we face in our society, but easier on each other. We must demonstrate that we cannot be a community of searchers and learners if we do not share... Read more →
Are the leaders of our academic institutions complicit in the current student-led challenge to free speech and free expression on college campuses? Jonathan R. Cole thinks so. In a recent piece for The Atlantic Cole discusses possible cultural, institutional, and societal explanations for the recent uptick in opposition to free expression on American college campuses.
Cole’s argument moves beyond the psychological hypothesis advanced by some of our members concerning the coddling of the American mind. In particular, Cole discusses 9/11 and its aftermath. He describes today’s college students, primarily born in the mid-1990s, as “children of war and fear” who have been raised in a political climate where freedom of expression and/or privacy have been pitted against personal security:Read more →
Is the Internet a safe space? The European Union thinks it should be, according to a recent proposal.
Vera Jourová, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, unveiled a new EU code to tackle illegal ‘hate speech’ on the internet. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft have all lined up with the EU to remove hate speech from the web, with a particular focus on racism and xenophobia. “The internet is a place for free speech, not hate speech,” Jourova said.
In advance of the proposed code– and concurrently, the release of the second edition of Paul Coleman’s book Censored: How European “Hate Speech” Laws are Threatening Freedom of Speech– the online journal Spiked published a piece “asking leading free speech thinkers to weigh in on Europe’s increasingly punitive hate-speech legislation, which has led to individuals being arrested, fined and even jailed for anything from criticizing homosexuality in... Read more →
At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf considers the multiple interpretations of diversity and inclusion, and how their ambiguity creates problems when colleges make them tenure requirements.
At the City Journal, David Seidemann reviews the hidden funneling of money from public universities to Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), a network of liberal lobbying organizations.
Finally, Spiked has collected statements from a number of professors, lawyers, and authors about the need to protect free speech by blocking EU commission legislation that purports to tackle hate speech.
Read more →
Dave Rubin interviews Jonathan Haidt about political correctness on American campuses.
The Economist reviews the debate between university protestors and their critics.
And the University of Oregon schedules a discussion about the Bias Response Team, and specifically, whether it violates the right to free speech.
Read more →
To increase viewpoint diversity in the academy, with a special focus on the social sciences.