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
Why was the modern research university created? In his latest book Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University, Chad Wellmon, Associate Professor of German Studies and History at the University of Virginia, tackles this question, arguing that the research university was a technology created to assuage anxieties about a surfeit of scientific knowledge. In Wellmon’s account, the research university arose as an alternative to previous technologies that were invented to solve this problem, but which failed. My goal in this blog post is to selectively summarize Organizing Enlightenment, and explain its relevance to the mission of Heterodox Academy. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that Chad is an undergraduate classmate and friend of mine.)
In Europe, the problem of excess information manifested itself during the 18th century, during which there was an explosion of periodicals. In the period between 1700... Read more →
On December 6th, Texas A&M University will play host to Richard Spencer, a leader of the “alt-right” movement, and an open white supremacist. Many will likely view Spencer’s presence at Texas A & M as confirmation that Donald Trump’s election to the presidency has allowed fringe political views to enter mainstream discussion. When Spencer, or someone like him, makes a statement like “America was, until this last generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation and our inheritance, and it belongs to us,” many people may question why we should remain committed to the First Amendment. This post argues why members of an academic community need to remain steadfast in that commitment, even when faced with a figure like Richard Spencer. Read more →
In time for Thanksgiving, we released the Heterodox Holiday Placemat.
Our executive team also released a joint statement, its first such statement, to condemn the professor watchlist by Turning Point USA. The watchlist was also condemned by PEN America. Robert Mather at Psychology Today had another perspective, and Rod Dreher’s story at the American Conservative includes a noteworthy reader update at the end (UPDATE.2).
Meanwhile, Nature entreated its readers to combat political confirmation bias, especially because of its impact on conservative perspectives.
International students add to the viewpoint diversity at many campuses, and Moody’s Investors Services estimates the Trump presidency will restrict the flow of international students coming to the United States,
These past two weeks, we published these blog posts:On the Role of the Public Intellectual in the United States Introducing the Heterodox Holiday Placemat
Read more →
We at Heterodox Academy believe viewpoint diversity is vital to the academy and we support reasoned debate, discussion and engagement of different perspectives. So, when we saw that HXA member Robert Mather of the University of Central Oklahoma had published a response to the Professor Watchlist in Psychology Today that offered an alternative view of our statement, we wanted to feature his take and encourage your response.
From his article:
The Executive Team of the Heterodox Academy (2016) condemned the Professor Watchlist in a statement. Laudable, but this is an example of being out of touch with conservative students and faculty. Conservative students and faculty have been marginalized in the ivory tower. I agree with the Heterodox Academy that such a watchlist does not facilitate collegial discourse. Indeed, this watchlist is a response to events such as the bias... Read more →
A guest post by Preston Stovall, member of the academic precariat, and currently an adjunct instructor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, a researcher with Studium Consulting, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh.
One doesn’t have to look long or hard to see contentious divisions in American society today. From punditry and political debate to the polarization of both old and new media outlets, contemporary American life is riven with factionalism. As a consequence, Americans often find it hard to talk to and understand one another. This difficulty, in turn, redounds on our capacity for collective action. In failing to grasp the reasons and values that motivate our fellow citizens, we find it hard to come together and work toward common ends with them. For sympathy of the sort that makes for common cause cannot be had without understanding.
If that is right,... Read more →
Turning Point USA has recently launched its “Professor Watchlist,” with the declared mission “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”... We think that this project will only exacerbate a problem we are trying to address at Heterodox Academy: professors and students are increasingly afraid of voicing and debating opinions in the classroom. For this reason, we--the executive committee of Heterodox Academy--believe that Professor Watchlist is pernicious and misguided... We call on everyone who is concerned about the state of higher education to stop devising ways that members of an academic community can report or punish each other for classroom speech. Read more →
Heterodox Academy is consistently looking to produce resources that can help people understand others with whom they disagree politically. After a divisive election season, we are proud to offer a new tool for stimulating empathy and conversation this holiday season, or any other season. The Heterodox Holiday Placemat is a free, downloadable resource for advancing discussions about viewpoint diversity around the dining table. Great conversations and new insights happen when people who see things differently come together in a context that promotes civility and mutual respect- something we desperately need in America right now. Read more →
At UNC Chapel Hill, Ryan Thornburg analyzes claims that his colleague Michael Jacobs made about a lack of viewpoint diversity at UNC, arguing that political donations are not a good way to track the partisanship of professors.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities convened this week, opening with a keynote discussion entitled “Balancing Freedom of Expression and Diversity on Campuses.”
Robin DeRosa, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University, took to Twitter to ask academics for statements that their university presidents made about the election. She writes about the statements she received here.
On our blog, Sean Stevens wrote about how Spiked ranks UK universities for free speech.Read more →
Heterodox Academy has primarily focused on the academy’s problem with viewpoint diversity within the United States. Yet, viewpoint diversity is increasingly an issue in other Western countries- most prominently in the United Kingdom. For the past two years, Spiked has ranked British universities with a traffic-light system for free speech, similar to the systems employed by FIRE and ISI. This blog post briefly summarizes the criteria employed by Spiked and presents some examples university policies and actions that can result in lower (RED) or higher (GREEN) rankings for free speech.Read more →
At the University of Pennsylvania, an alternative media publication placed a large “free speech” beach ball on campus on which students could write their political opinions, however controversial.
Graham Ambrose, a junior history major at Yale, describes what has changed since protests shook Yale a year ago.
And George Mason University reaffirmed that the way to combat speech is through more speech:
Although the University supports your right to express discontent in a lawful manner, it is also obligated to uphold the rights of those who visit our campus to engage in constitutionally protected activities. You most certainly can counter speech you are offended by with your own speech.... Read more →
[Note: This essay was posted on Nov. 1, 2016, based on information available at the time. Since then the story has gotten more complicated. Based on Rectenwald’s followup essay in the Washington Post, Nov. 3, it seems that he was not “suspended,” but that he is in trouble with his department and his dean for his twitter activity, and that it was suggested to him that he take a paid leave of absence. But a spokesman for NYU says that Rectenwald originally requested the leave himself, and he links to email correspondence consistent with that claim. We don’t yet know whether NYU acted improperly. But we leave Jussim’s original post below because we believe it makes the valid point that aggressive, uncivil, and even obscene language that supports the dominant political viewpoint is widely accepted; similar language that critiques the dominant viewpoint will elicit, at least, a rebuke from the “Diversity, Equity... Read more →
In a Yale Daily News survey of undergraduates, three out of four respondents agreed that Yale does not provide a welcoming environment for conservative students to share their opinions on political issues. Nearly 95 of self-identified conservatives said that Yale does not welcome their opinions.
“My Halloween email led to a campus firestorm — and a troubling lesson about self-censorship.” writes Erika Christakis. On the first anniversary of the Yale Halloween dustup. Christakis reflects on what she learned about the Yale community, and explains her choice to resign her Yale position.
This week’s blog posts at Heterodox Academy:Rigorous Intentional Inclusion by Marisela Martinez-Cola The Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges: Starting A Methodological Discussion by Jeremy Willinger We Champion, Racial, and Ethnic Diversity: Why Not Viewpoint Diversity by Jeremy Willinger, a commentary on this piece by Clay Routledge at Scientific American Read more →
HXA member Dr. Clay Routledge, social psychologist and professor of Psychology at North Dakota State University, has crafted an important and informative piece in Scientific American on the lack of viewpoint diversity when we champion diversity on campus.
Routledge gets right into the main issue, that “Conservatives have little influence in the scholarly disciplines that have the most to say about social and cultural life, family, and mental health.” Before readers think this is an anti-Liberal screed, it is anything but because the lack of viewpoint diversity on campus diminishes opportunities by all students to develop deeper understanding and solidified opinions based on exchange, engagement and empathy.
Some may not see why this is a problematic concern but Routledge deftly outlines why this matters for both college students and professors- as well as those outside campus environs.
Firstly, as Routledge point out, “The problem is how the personal... Read more →
A week ago Heterodox Academy released the preliminary version of our Guide to Colleges– a unique resource that ranks the top 150 schools as listed by US News and World Report on whether the intellectual climate on campus is free, open, and vibrant, or whether it is dominated by political conformity.
The information collected is then used to produce a Heterodox Academy Score (HxA Score), ranging from 0 (high levels of political conformity and orthodoxy) to 100 (low levels of political conformity and orthodoxy). You can see more on our methodology page.
In the week since the guide’s release, we’ve received number of excellent questions about the methodology and suggestions about how we can improve it to better capture each school’s campus climate. We delve into several of these suggestions, with the goal of starting an open discussion about the guide’s methodology.Read more →
This guest post is by Marisela Martinez-Cola, a doctoral student in sociology at Emory University and instructor of sociology at Oglethorpe University.
“What would you say if I told you I own a gun?”
This is how I began a lecture called “The Soap Operas of Sociology” for my Introduction to Sociology course. After a brief pause, I was met with a variety of responses. Some students say, “Good for you!” Others look in disbelief.
Then, I ask the following questions: “What if I told you that I participate in sharp shooting competitions? Or that my brother-in-law is a gunsmith and we bond by going to a shooting range? Or that I was a victim of crime and simply felt safer having a gun? Would any of those reasons make you feel less shocked or better about why I own a gun?” Some students nodded yes, while others indicated... Read more →
Students at Western Carolina University protested against the creation of free speech zones, proposing that free speech be allowed at all places on the campus.
PEN released a report on the state of free speech on college campuses, reaching a more sanguine conclusion than FIRE.The New York Times covered the report’s release, A critical response was published by Robby Soave at Reason magazine. Jim Sleeper defends the report and criticizes FIRE.
We had a noteworthy week at Heterodox Academy, publishing:Why Universities Must Choose One Telos by Jonathan Haidt Introducing the Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges by Jeremy Willinger Why is Wonder Alien to Social Psychology? by Collin Barnes Read more →
What is the telos (goal or purpose) of university? The most obvious answer is “truth” –- the word appears on so many university crests. But increasingly, many of America’s top universities are embracing social justice as their telos, or as a second and equal telos. But can any institution or profession have two teloses (or teloi)? What happens if they conflict? [Short essay and long video lecture by Jonathan Haidt, at Duke University, using moral and social psychology to explain what's been happening on American college campuses for the past year] Read more →
October has been dubbed College Application Month by a number of states (Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and several others). As prospective students begin filling out forms and looking to see which campuses fit their idea of a supportive and robust learning and social environment, they look to a range of guides and ranking systems.
While many of these ranking systems include the traditional metrics about acceptance rate, student-faculty ratio and more, they cannot tell you whether the intellectual climate is vibrant, varied, and free, or whether it is conformist and politicized. Now, there is a resource that does.
Introducing the Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges made up of the top 150 national universities from US News & World Report college ranking guide (as of May 8, 2016). Incorporating a variety of metrics and factors, each school is given a “Heterodox Academy Score” factoring in:Endorsement of the Chicago... Read more →
Guest post by HXA member Collin D. Barnes, assistant professor of Psychology at Hillsdale College
In a prominent textbook that I have used with students, Michael Shermer is quoted as saying,
“I’m a skeptic not because I do not want to believe but because I want to know. I believe the truth is out there. But how can we tell the difference between what we would like to be true and what is actually true? The answer is science.”
I believe that the unbridled skepticism Shermer expresses is at the heart of education in social psychology and that it has given rise to a belief that what we think about ourselves and our lives together cannot be held with any confidence until objective, scientific insight into these problems is obtained. The result of taking such a stance on our knowledge in this realm is that we become... Read more →
Heterodox Academy began 13 months ago as a collaboration of 23 professors and two grad students who had been writing about issues related to viewpoint diversity and political orthodoxy in the academy. In July we opened up membership to any tenured professor, not just in the USA but in other English speaking countries as well. We limited new memberships to full (tenured) professors because assistant (untenured) professors are much more vulnerable if they “stick their necks out” for what some may see as an unpopular cause.
We received a flood of interest. Our membership is now approaching 200 full professors, including a Nobel Prize winner, former presidents of the ACLU and the American Psychological Association, prominent authors, and a variety of names that you’ll recognize. Our membership is well balanced among professors who self-describe as progressive, conservative, centrist, and libertarian.
Now that we have established a reputation as a collaboration... Read more →
To increase viewpoint diversity in the academy.