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
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.
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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.
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In the face of demands for greater political diversity on college campuses, sociologist Neil Gross is pushing back. Pointing to a 2015 Harvard study, which found that a mere 21 percent of Republican students feel uncomfortable sharing their views on campus, Gross says that the climate on campus is not especially unfriendly to conservative views. If “suppression of conservative voices were rampant,” Gross concludes, “we’d see a far larger share of collegiate Republicans concerned about their freedom of speech.” Yet even if one evaluates American campuses’ political climate by the light of the Harvard study alone, its findings are less encouraging than Gross supposes. Read more →
In the 60s, Mary Beth Tinker wore a black armband to school to take a stand against the Vietnam War, leading to a landmark Supreme Court case on free speech, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District. This week, in an interview with FIRE, she talked about student speech rights in today’s world.
The New Yorker has an extended article “The Big Uneasy” about activism at Oberlin College. Written by Nathan Helloer, the article features interviews with students and faculty, and covers the generational divide between liberal professors and liberal students, and the rise of intersectionality.
Timothy Garton Ash is interviewed about his new free-speech manifesto “Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World.” He presents 10 principles of free speech, which you can find at the article’s end.Read more →
Owing to its huge impact on minorities, the 1994 Crime Bill is back on the table. Proponents of the law claim that it helped lead to a sharp reduction in crime, especially in minority communities. Opponents hold that the law supports America’s carceral state through the targeting of minorities, so that, like many other parts of our jurisprudence, the law is racist. Since Hillary Clinton supported, and Bernie Sanders actually voted for the bill, it follows, neither can be trusted. The charge of racism being especially inflammatory these days, it demands to be tested. To avoid the trap of presentism in doing so, we need to bring ourselves back a generation, something young activists obviously cannot do without some help. So here is National Book Award and McArthur Prize winner Ta-Nehisi Coates talking about his youth in Baltimore. To be black, then, was “to be naked, before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape and disease. The law did not protect us.” His memories of the time, he says, are filled with murder: “I remember being amazed that death could so easily rise up from the nothing of a boyish afternoon, billow up like fog.” In this setting, every day brought a “series of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risk[ed] a beat-down , a shooting, or a pregnancy. “ Read more →
Sociologist Neil Gross, who has studied ideology among academics, has an editorial questioning whether changes in hiring practices will have any impact.
The annual report from the U of Oregon’s Bias Response Team is available online.
In the Independent, university student Benjie Beer argues that marginalized groups will not be helped by censorship.
The Washington Post has a forum on what college students mean when they ask for safe spaces and trigger warnings. Scroll to the bottom to share your thoughts on safe spaces, trigger warnings, “coddling,” and generational change.Read more →
Although young people have long been hailed as more open-minded and politically tolerant than their parents and grandparents, there is evidence that this is no longer the case (see How Marcuse Made Todays Students Less Tolerant). The problem of political intolerance is clearly demonstrated on college campuses in recent months, as student groups clash over issues of immigration, race, and even support for presidential candidates. While debate and protests can be healthy displays of free expression, many of these efforts seem aimed at shutting down unpopular speech or punishing people with offensive viewpoints. In the past several months, scholars at Heterodox Academy have collectively made a compelling case that free speech at America’s colleges and universities does not enjoy the protected, valued status that a “marketplace of ideas” would demand. Read more →
Are college administrators unintentionally promoting narcissism by asking students to think about how they have been victimized by micro-aggressions? Howard Schwarz, professor emeritus of organizational behavior, contemplates this question in a new essay about micro-aggressions and the pristine self.
“When I arrive at college, I don’t wish to live in a safe space,” writes Mahad Olad, a rising freshman and self-identified activist. Olad criticizes several aspects of campus activism, including the use of identity as an argument and the assumption that all minorities share an ideology.
In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about Olad and similar students, who been treated as treasonous by campus activists for being interested in heterodox viewpoints.
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Universities are among the most progressive and anti-racist institutions in American society. Many Americans therefore found it confusing to see dozens of our top universities racked by racial protests since last September. To add to the puzzle, many of the most high-profile actions occurred at universities widely perceived to be the most devoted to social justice and racial equality -– schools such as Brown, Yale, Amherst, Wesleyan, and Oberlin. What is going on? A simple resolution of the puzzle is the hypothesis that the anti-racist policies these schools pursue give rise, indirectly, to experiences of marginalization for black students.... In 1969, Judge Macklin Fleming wrote an extraordinary letter to the Dean of the Yale Law School warning that Yale's plan to drastically lower admission requirements for black students would backfire. Judge Fleming also predicted how future black students would react to the difficult situation they were placed into; he predicted in 1969 many of the specific demands that campus protesters are making in 2016. Read more →
We are indebted to Professor Russell Jacoby for his article “Academe is Overrun by Liberals. So What?” published in the April 1, 2016 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Although the article was intended to critique the inclusion of ideology as one element of higher education’s commitment to diversity, the piece inadvertently highlights the need for more political diversity on America’s college campuses. We should begin by disclosing that as a conservative, a libertarian and a liberal academic, we reflect a cross-section of faculty who promote the mission of Heterodox Academy. Our view is that Jacoby repeatedly gets the facts wrong in ways that reveal just how much the academy needs political diversity. Read more →
Here are two definitions of the word liberal: 1) Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values (Oxford Dictionaries) 2) A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. (Robert Frost) Nick Kristof exemplifies both definitions. He happens also to be on the left, politically, but many people on the left these days are not liberal by either definition. This is especially a problem in universities, which cannot function without people who are open to new ideas and who are willing to question their “side” when empirical evidence calls for that. The rising problem of illiberalism on campus is why we created Heterodox Academy in the first place. Many of us were therefore thrilled by Kristof’s column today in the New York Times: A Confession of Liberal Intolerance. Read more →
Jon Shields and Joshua Dunn, Sr. have an editorial in the WSJ, which summarizes what they discovered over the course of interviews with 153 conservative and libertarian professors. The editorial is a companion piece to their new book. The WSJ piece is gated, but some related pieces can be found here, here, and here. (WSJ, Japan Times, and Inside Higher Ed.) A report on diversity at Yale Law School has revealed a lack of both ethnic and political diversity among the school's faculty. And in the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf notes how the tools of campus activists can be used to stifle ....campus activists. Friedersdorf also has a piece about "concept creep," which explains why younger Americans are more sensitive to harm. (See Jon Haidt's related piece here.) Read more →
The Federalist Society held a conference last Friday on intellectual diversity in the academy, at Stanford law school. This echoes a similar conference the Society sponsored at Harvard Law in 2013. The Stanford meeting discussed recent research on the current state of viewpoint diversity by scholars like James Phillips and Jon Shields, a debate between Stanford law’s Michael McConnell and former Stanford law dean Larry Kramer (now head of the Hewlett Foundation), student views of these issues, and a round table on political correctness, including Heterodox Academy’s own Nick Rosenkranz. The conference was opened by current Stanford law dean Elizabeth Magill, an admirably pluralistic academic leader. Video and audio of the panels can be found here. Read more →
A new book by education professor Joanna Williams explores how changing ideas about the purpose of a university have altered the concept of academic freedom and provided a foundation for student censorship in the U.K. The book is called "Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge" and Williams was recently interviewed by Inside Higher Ed. The book explores how changing ideas about the purpose of the university have altered the concept of academic freedom and provided a foundation for the student censorship movement in the United Kingdom. Read more →
This blog post contains resources related to a recent article published in The Guardian, by Jonathan Haidt and Nick Haslam, on campus censorship. That article explored the ramifications of an academic article by Haslam, on "Concept Creep." Haslam’s paper gives us one of the most powerful conceptual tools for understanding what is happening on American university campuses in the last several years, and on British campuses in the last year or so. Haslam shows that many of our most important moral concepts—such as bullying, trauma, and prejudice—have been “creeping” downward and outward to encompass so much of life, and such small exemplars, that vast swaths of what used to be considered normal human behavior are now seen either as pathological (requiring treatment) or as morally outrageous (requiring punishment). This is why it is becoming more difficult to live and work on college campuses -– the zone of acceptable speech and behavior is steadily shrinking, which chills free speech. Everyone is walking on eggshells. The article is long, but it is so important that I (Jon Haidt) have created a condensed version of it, to bring it out to a broader readership... Read more →
The AAUP reports that efforts to halt sexual harassment have had a chilling effect on speech. The NY Times article cites the cases of two professors Patti Adler (UC Boulder) and Laura Kipnis (Northwestern). Here’s the full report. A new blog The Conservative Social Psychologist has been launched on Psychology Today’s blog network by professor Robert Mather (University of Central Oklahoma). And the president of Emory University, James Wagner, has expressed his support for free speech after a nationally publicized incident at the university. The president of Princeton, Christopher Eisgruber, in response to a challenge, has also stated that Princeton is committed to free speech, and would even allow an event commemorating Osama Bin Laden if a campus group wanted to host one. Read more →
To increase viewpoint diversity in the academy, with a special focus on the social sciences.