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

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—Feb. 17, 2017 Edition

Aaron Hanlon, English professor at Colby College, was a conservative during his undergraduate years, and has advice for today’s conservative students: don’t see yourself as victims, learn how to convince people who disagree with you, avoid comparing disagreement with suppression, and seek out highly credentialed conservative speakers instead of provocateurs like Milo.

Speaking of Milo, the Chronicle covers how the president of the University of Washington, Ana Mari Cauce, handled requests to disinvite him.

Also in the Chronicle, University of Pennsylvania lecturer Rafael Walker argues that cancelling controversial speakers hurts students by creating echo chambers.

FIRE published its bias response team report, which is the result of a survey of the mandates given to universities’ and colleges’ bias, and the definitions of bias that are used by various institutions.

Catherine Ross, professor of law at George Washington University, argues that we ought to start teaching the principles of... Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—Feb. 10, 2017 Edition

In American Universities Must Take a Stand, Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, exhorts universities to take a stand against the Trump administration’s immigration policy and its authoritarianism more broadly.

At Slate reporter Isaac Chotiner has conversation with pro-Trump English professor Mark Bauerlein of Emory University about what he thinks about the Trump administration now.

Conservative and libertarian groups have proposed a campus free-speech bill which would prohibit disinvitations and speech codes at public universities.

The debate around Betsy DeVos’s nomination as Education Secretary revolved around K-12 education, but the Washington Post considers how her leadership will affect US higher education.

On our blog, we published:

Campus Speaker Disinvitations: Recent Trends (Part 2 of 2) Read more →

Campus Speaker Disinvitations: Recent Trends (Part 2 of 2)

We are a little over a month into 2017 and already last year’s disinvitation outlier, Milo Yiannopoulos, has spurred a number of disinvitation attempts and event disruptions (see here, here, here, and here). Worse still is that violence has erupted at some of these events, including a shooting in Seattle and riots on the University of California’s Berkeley campus. Given the current confrontational campus climate, part 2 of this blog looks at the actual effectiveness of politically motivated speaker disinvitation attempts. These analyses revealed that speaker disinvitation attempts from 2000 to 2016 came primarily from the left of the speaker and occurred most often for controversies over racial issues, views on sexual orientation, and views on Islam. Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—February 3, 2017 Edition

Protests at Berkeley have dominated this week’s education news, but evidence suggests that a group of anarchists from outside the Berkeley campus were responsible for the violence, and they attacked Berkeley students who were protesting peacefully.

Michael Hout, a junior at U Mass-Amherst, writes about how the culture of ideological purity among campus liberals led him to distance himself from the College Democrats and co-found The American Moderate.

David Wheeler at The Atlantic has an essay about Donald Trump’s decision to tap the president of Liberty University to lead a task force within the U.S. Department of Education.

The New York Times has a profile of Hillsdale College, “a ‘shining city on a hill’ for conservatives.”

And the College of Charleston can be a case study for the tension between academic freedom and “crudely partisan” class discussions.

On our blog, we published:

Microaggressions, Macro Debate by Musa Al-Gharbi


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Microaggressions, Macro Debate

The concept of microaggressions gained prominence with the publication of Sue et al.’s 2007, “Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life,” which defined microaggressions as communicative, somatic, environmental or relational cues that demean and/or disempower members of minority groups in virtue of their minority status. Microaggressions, they asserted, are typically subtle and ambiguous. Often, they are inadvertent or altogether unconscious. For these reasons, they are also far more pervasive than other, more overt, forms of bigotry (which are less-tolerated in contemporary America). The authors propose a tripartite taxonomy of microaggressions: Microassaults involve explicit and intentional racial derogation; Microinsults involve rudeness or insensitivity towards another’s heritage or identity; Microinvalidations occur when the thoughts and feelings of a minority group member seem to be excluded, negated or nullified as a result of their minority status. The authors then present anecdotal evidence suggesting that repeated exposure to microaggressions is detrimental to the well-being of minorities. Moreover, they assert, a lack of awareness about the prevalence and impact of microaggressions among mental health professionals could undermine the practice of clinical psychology—reducing the quality and accessibility of care for those who may need it most. Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—January 27, 2017 Edition

What can governments do to protect free speech on campus? Stanley Kurtz has a proposal for state-level legislation, which will be presented at The Heritage Foundation on January 31.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have released Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty in the Wake of hte 2106 Election, a faculty cheat sheet to resist threats to academic freedom. The guide, described in this press release, can be found here.

On our blog, we published:

Why Viewpoint Diversity Also Matters in the Hard Sciences by Joseph Conlon Campus Speaker Disinvitations: Recent Trends (Part 1 of 2) by Sean Stevens Read more →

Why Viewpoint Diversity Also Matters in the Hard Sciences

Heterodox Academy was founded to encourage viewpoint diversity in the academy. It is clear that research on political hot button topics benefits from viewpoint diversity. What about the hard sciences? These are more objective – the mass of the Higgs boson is uncontroversial in a way that the Affordable Care Act is not. For this reason, viewpoint diversity may not seem important in the hard sciences. If everyone agrees on the laws of nature, and there is no Republican Quantum Mechanics and Democrat Quantum Mechanics, why does it matter if around 90% of scientists are on the political left[1]? There are several reasons why the hard sciences also benefit from viewpoint diversity. Read more →

Campus Speaker Disinvitations: Recent trends (Part 1 of 2)

It happened frequently in 2016- a college club or the school administration invites a speaker but due to pressures from student groups or day-of protests, the event is cancelled and the speaker forced to find alternative venues or issue an apology to disappointed audience members. FIRE recently reported that 2016 featured a record number of disinvitations to speakers from colleges and universities, 46 in total. The previous record of 34 was set in 2013. Such a figure bolsters the case that free speech is being increasingly restricted on college campuses. Yet, a closer inspection reveals that 14 of the 46 disinvitation attempts in 2016 focused on a single target, Milo Yiannopoulos. This suggests that 2016’s record number of disinvitation attempts may not be indicative of an increased level of assault on free speech on college campuses, because the record-setting number may have been driven by one outlier. Fortunately, FIRE maintains a database documenting speaker disinvitation attempts on college campuses starting in the year 2000, allowing for a deeper investigation into campus disinvitation attempts. This is the first of a two-part series on FIRE’s disinvitation data. This post focuses on basic exploratory analyses. Part two focuses on the political motivations behind the disinvitation attempts. Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—January 20, 2017 edition

In “Who’s Really Limiting Free Speech,” Donald P. Moynihan argued against the common conception that it is primarily the left that limits free speech on campus. Letters in response to Moynihan’s Op-Ed are here.

In The Hill, law professor Shannon Gilreath writes about how the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (“AAA”) of 2016 can help protect Jewish students on campus while also protecting freedom of speech.

Our recent blog posts at Heterodox Academy include:

Increasing Economic Diversity on Campus by Jeremy Willinger The institutionalization of Ideology in Sociology by Carl Bankston All I Want For Christmas is Consistent Freedom of Speech by George Yancey Threat to Free Speech Spreads to Australian Campuses by Caroline Mehl


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Increasing Economic Diversity on Campus

Increasing viewpoint diversity in the academy offers many benefits. While Heterodox Academy is primarily focused on increasing political diversity to prevent the formation of political orthodoxy, there are many other kinds of diversity that would improve the quality of discourse on campus. One that is sorely lacking, and getting more attention in the last year or two, is economic diversity. A recent piece by HxA member Jonathan Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania, published on Philly.com, offers this stunning statistic about his own school, The University of Pennsylvania: Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—January 13, 2017

A research paper by Heterodox Academy member Sam Abrams shows that conservatives professors are at least as happy with their career choiceas their liberal counterparts, and possibly even happier.

Joshua Dunn, also a member of Heterodox Academy, has an editorial in Education Week arguing that policymakers will take academic research more seriously when academia has more political diversity.

Philanthropy Roundtable hosted a discussion between Jonathan Haidt and FIRE president Greg Lukianoff on free inquiry in higher education.

Seeking to impose limits on college speech, Arizona lawmaker Bob Thorpe (R) has proposed banning any state university events, classes, and activities that could promote racial resentment. His bill targets things like a “privilege walk” exercise and the “Whiteness and Race Theory” course at Arizona State.

And in Washington, state senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) announced he will be proposing a bill to block universities from engaging protests targeted at the state of Israel.



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The Institutionalization of Ideology in Sociology

The reason a social justice orientation cannot co-exist with an orientation toward the pursuit of truth is not, then, these present universities with two competing ends. The problem, rather, is the nature of social justice education. By institutionalizing a social and political ideology, this approach takes thought and decision-making away from individuals and imposes a received set of organizational values and ideas. Because the character of the just society is a legitimate topic of debate and not a self-evident truth, an organization devoted to social justice requires its members to assume answers rather than asking questions and stifles freedom of thought. Read more →

All I Want for Christmas is Consistent Freedom of Speech

On Christmas Eve, professor George Ciccariello-Maher of Drexel tweeted “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.” He later clarified it as satire, invoking a white supremacist meme that refers to race mixing. He really did not want to slaughter whites but wanted to make a point about the alt-right. As someone who has worked hard to promote useful interracial communication, you will excuse me if I characterize his “satire” as extremely distasteful and unnecessarily provocative. His comments suggest to me that he is a professor who wanted sensationalist attention, regardless of the effect his comments have on inhibiting healthy interracial relationships and exacerbating our racial divide. Read more →

Threat to Free Speech Spreads to Australian Campuses

While the mission of Heterodox Academy is focused on the threats to viewpoint diversity and free expression on American campuses, in November we explored the emergence of parallel trends in the United Kingdom. This phenomenon has also reached Australia, where a May 2016 report by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) highlights the extent to which free speech has come under threat at ninety-eight percent of Australian universities. Below is a summary of IPA’s methodology, key findings, and examples of university actions that affect their free speech ratings. Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—January 6, 2017

When a professor offends a specific group of students, some students may assume that the professor also intends to discriminate against them. Law professors Eugene Volokh argues against this assumption, noting that vast swaths of political and religious criticism would be off limits if offense were considered equivalent to discrimination.

More than 12,000 professors asked to have their names added to the Professor Watchlist through petitions on freeacademics.net and the American Association of University Professors website. Read our statement against the Professor Watchlist.

In a critique of the Chicago Principles, Tom Lindsay at Forbes argues that such principles should not be grounded in university tradition, as at Chicago, but rather because freedom has intrinsic value.

Zachary Wood is president of Uncomfortable Learning at Williams College, a series that brings controversial speakers to campus. An encounter with the DC police this winter led him to... Read more →

Heterodox Academy: Our Plans for 2017

The mission of Heterodox Academy (HxA) is “to improve viewpoint diversity in the academy.” We have repeatedly shown that viewpoint diversity--particularly political diversity--has been declining since the 1990s, and that improvements in viewpoint diversity are likely to improve the quality of research and education that universities deliver. We have had a very successful first 16 months in pursuit of this mission, since our launch in September of 2015. We grew from 25 members at the start of 2016 to 348 members today, and our membership is drawn from across the political spectrum, as you can see in the table below. Heterodox Academy is now among the most politically diverse organizations in the academy, and our members have modeled the kind of wide-ranging inquiry and civil disagreement that has traditionally characterized academic life at its best. I think the presidential election has produced three changes that are particularly relevant to our mission... I therefore suggest that HxA focus its efforts on two priorities for 2017... Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—December 16, 2016 Edition

Professor Mike Spivey describes his experience serving as the lone conservative on a post-election panel at the University of Puget Sound.

In response to Nicholas Kristof’s piece about echo chambers on campus, Elizabeth Lehfeldt published an open letter in which she argues against mis-representations of what college campuses are like today.

Jonathan Gold writes about teaching in the post-truth era.

Catherine Rampell, opinion writer at the Washington Post, notes that the campus right also shuts down free speech.

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