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
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 →
Freshmen at James Madison University were taught that “We’re all part of the human race” and “I treat all people the same” are two of the 35 things that students should avoid saying.
University of California president Janet Napolitano wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe about the history and value of defending free speech on campuses.
And First Things reviewed Jon Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr.’s Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progress University.
Read more →
It’s hard to feel sympathy for helicopter parents. Since their emergence, the media have criticized them, popular novels have caricatured them, and trade publications have offered advice on how to cope with them. They are blamed for creating a culture of coddling, a culture that has also produced speech codes and bias response teams. Amidst this din, some crucial questions have been neglected. Is everyone becoming a helicopter parent? What are helicopter parents actually doing? Most importantly, should we see helicopter parents as over-controlling neurotics or rational actors who trying to cope with new challenges? These questions matter for heterodox academics because their demands can be misinterpreted as attempts to protect their children from all types of discomfort, when their true motives are of a different nature.Read more →
When hearing testimony on financial regulation, we like to know whether the expert has a vested interest. We like to know of commitments that affect interpretation and judgment.
An individual’s ideological commitments are like vested interests, only deeper and more permanent. They are like his religious commitments, running deep and changing little. They suffuse his professional and personal relationships, his sense of self, his sacred beliefs and sacred causes. They are religious, in Emile Durkheim’s broad sense of the term religion.
In his 2014 book The Sacred Project of American Sociology, Christian Smith excavates the sacred beliefs and sacred causes of American sociology, and declares his own. Very refreshing!
There is a lot to be said for declaring your sacred beliefs. Do you not like to know where the speaker stands?
Some say: Don’t wear your politics on your sleeve: Just be truthful. But truthfulness leaves things... Read more →
“Without tenure, professors become terrified sheep,” Alice Dreger argues in Aeon magazine.
Heterodox Academy member Gerard Alexander writes about real academic diversity in National Affairs.
At our own blog, Sean Stevens summarizes new research on political prejudice among professors, showing that both progressive and conservative professors disfavor the hiring of people who don’t share their political views.Read more →
Are progressive academics openly hostile and discriminatory towards their conservative colleagues? Could such hostility help explain the well-known discrepancy between progressive* and conservative faculty members on college campuses?
Initial research published by Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers in 2012 suggested that the answer to these questions is yes – at least among social and personality psychologists. Specifically, a sample of social and personality psychologists reported a greater willingness to actively discriminate against conservative colleagues. The small number of conservative social and personality psychologists sampled also reported experiencing a more hostile climate within their department.
Yet, there are a number of plausible hypotheses that can explain the ideological discrepancy between progressives and conservatives within academia. These hypotheses include:The self-selection hypothesis: Conservatives may self-select out of academia (see Gross, 2013) because for a variety of reasons that include being less interested in new ideas or possessing... Read more →
At a New York University debate, Shikha Dalmia made the case for preserving free speech on campuses, and in the United States more broadly. She debated Jeremy Waldron, author of “The Harm of Hate Speech.” Dalmia published an excerpt from her side of the debate here.
Glenn Loury was interviewed on what the campus conversation on race gets right and what it gets wrong.Read more →
Heterodox Academy is proud to launch our online shop with shirts, mugs, stickers, buttons and other swag to help support and promote viewpoint diversity on campus. While there is a high variety of items, the cost is low to make them available to anyone who is looking to support free speech, free inquiry and free expression in higher education.
Looking for additional ways to get involved with Heterodox Academy?Help make your school a Heterodox University/College Share our College Care Pack with new students Apply to join our collaboration (tenured professors only at this time) Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter Read more →
Do you have any friends or family members who are just starting college this fall? If so, Heterodox Academy’s “College Care Pack” is a useful resource to share.
Bringing the right attitude — including a spirit of curiosity about other perspectives, and humility about one’s own knowledge — will help promote viewpoint diversity and enable students to get the most out of college.Read more →
The New York Times hosted a debate about whether trigger warnings work, with debaters Elena Newman of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Sofie Karasek of End Rape on Campus, and Richard J. McNally, author of Remembering Trauma.
At Academe Blog, John K. Wilson writes about a troubling development at UC-Berkeley. Dean Carla Hesse cancelled a class on Palestine due to external political pressure and blamed the cancellation on an ostensible violation of policies even though no such violation occurred.
New research by Jean Twenge and colleagues shows that high school seniors today are more likely to identify as politically independent, rather than Democratic or Republican, and more likely to identify as conservative compared... Read more →
As part of our one year anniversary celebration, we engaged our membership to envision how the academy might look in 2025. We got a lot of engaging and interesting responses from a range of perspectives, reflecting the diversity in political affiliations of our members.
Turning our attention to our readership, we brainstormed how to provide a way to show support for viewpoint diversity. Then it hit us: Offer a badge for posting on social media, office doors, cubicles and meeting rooms!
So, we proudly present the Heterodox Academy Viewpoint Diversity Badge. Click the link to download web and print versions and learn about a fun way to broadcast your support.
Read more →
Heterodox Academy turns one year old today. To mark the occasion, we’re publishing our members’ answers to a simple question: "What change would you like to see in universities or in your academic field by 2025?". Our membership is politically diverse, but as you'll see below, we have a widely shared desire to protect and restore norms of vigorous and civil disagreement. We want everyone to be able to speak up, and our members offer a variety of suggestions for strengthening freedom of inquiry and norms of good scholarship. Steve Pinker, Nadine Strossen, Glenn Loury, Rick Shweder, Phil Tetlock, and more... Read more →
Brown University and Claremont McKenna College joined the University of Chicago in defending the importance of free speech. DePaul University went further by organizing a year-long series of speeches to discuss race and free speech. The series “will offer perspectives across the political spectrum on various topics including race, free speech and hate speech, and the current political climate.”
Greg Lukianoff responded to Jim Sleeper’s New York Times editorial, which falsely accused Lukianoff and FIRE of wrongdoing. And Nick Gillespie responded to Sleeper’s accusation that the free market created political correctness. (UPDATE, Sep. 14: See Jim Sleeper’s comment below.)
Heterodox Academy members Jonathan Zimmerman published an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Diversity, not dogma, on college campuses.”
Heterodox Academy celebrates its 1st anniversary tomorrow. Our inaugural blog post was published on September 10 last year and our second post, on September 14, was a summary of the big review paper about political diversity in psychology. Tomorrow, we’re publishing... Read more →
This is a guest post by Professor Aaron Kindsvatter, associate professor at the College of Education, University of Vermont. Earlier this year, I read that at Northern Colorado University conversations about gender identity were shut down to spare the feelings of a student who was offended. Moreover, the professor overseeing the class was investigated by the Northern Colorado University Bias Response Team. I believe that open discussions about gender identity are necessary to decrease hostility against sexual minorities, because prejudicial beliefs can be interrogated rather than be suppressed, and was disappointed that such discussions were being shut down. Upon checking the bias response policy at my own university, the University of Vermont, I felt compelled to write the following open letter. Read more →
Also in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about how the fear of reprisals led to the cancellation at Syracuse of a screening of The Settlers, a documentary about the religious settler movement in the West Bank. Friedersdorf also published this appraisal of the Chicago letter.
Iowa State renamed the area of their campus known as “the free speech zone” to Agora, which means public gathering place. This change makes it clear that the entire campus is, in fact, a free speech zone.
Finally, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Chancellor gave mixed messages to students about whether the campus supports or does not support free speech.
At Heterodox Academy, Jonathan Haidt published a Back-To-School video playlist for first-year college students.Read more →
Do you want to get the most out of your college experience and emerge smarter, emotionally stronger, and more self-sufficient when you graduate? Then be sure to watch these three videos. Read more →
Law professor Geoffrey R. Stone covers the history of threats to free speech, and opines on how recent campus controversies should have been handled.
Science writer Maria Konnikova contests the purported findings that personality traits cause political attitudes.
In a letter to new students, the University of Chicago dean John (Jay) Ellison declared that the university does not support trigger warnings or condone safe spaces. Jesse Singal explains the national context behind this letter. You can find other praise and criticism here.Read more →
In 1988 Frank Smith made an interesting observation. He realized that what children learned was not the result of formal instruction. A teacher, even a very good teacher, seemed to have limited influence on what was or was not picked-up by students: Two students could be in all the same classes and one might develop correct grammar while another might not.
So what caused one student to learn more or less than the other if they both had the same teachers? According to Smith, the students didn’t really learn through instruction or even conscious emulation. Instead, they acquired the characteristics of people they considered themselves to be like. It was this sense of “joining the club” that seemed to account for the students’ learning. So what really made the difference between whether Jayden or Olivia learned grammar was... Read more →
To increase viewpoint diversity in the academy, with a special focus on the social sciences.