Welcome

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—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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Academics Discuss American Democracy and the Election: Part 1

This is the first installment of a conversation among a diverse group of academics, each focused on an important issue about the 2016 election and its aftermath. See part 2.

Introduction (by Lee Jussim):

In response to a presidential election filled with hyperbole and vitriol, several of us – with a wide variety of political perspectives and identifications – decided that it might be of some value to have a calm, reasoned discussion about both the election and its aftermath.

Since the election, campuses have been hit with a double whammy.  Many people on the left have been shocked, disappointed, and angered by the election, and for good reasons.  The choice between major candidates was stark.  The left won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, and was bitterly disappointed.  Much of Trump’s rhetoric was crude and degrading; much was beyond the bounds of normal electoral politics; some... Read more →

Langbert, Quain, & Klein: Faculty Voter Registration in Economics, History, Journalism, Law, and Psychology

Previous blog posts at Heterodox Academy have discussed the rising homogeneity of political identities among professors at universities within the United States. Sam Abrams explored how the left-to-right ratio has increased over the past 25 years, particularly at colleges and universities in New England.  I have also reviewed work by Honeycutt and Freberg (2016) which suggested that conservatives experience a more hostile climate in academia than moderates or progressives.  Recently, Mitchell Langbert, Anthony Quain, and Daniel Klein published their findings on faculty voter registration in the fields of economics, history, journalism, law, and psychology. Their work is now the most recent snapshot we have of the politics of American professors. This blog post briefly summarizes their methodology, findings, and conclusions.

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Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—Dec. 9, 2016 Edition

Shortly after the election of Donald Trump, I spoke to my class about the need to respect political diversity, which is part of the human condition, without falling into the trap of false equivalence, in which all political parties are considered equal. This essay “To My Undergraduate Class on the 2016 Election” is a fuller version of the lecture I delivered.

Two Princeton professors at opposing ends of the political spectrum, Robert George and Cornel West, discussed the meaning of a true liberal arts education in an AEI-sponsored discussion. You can find the video at AEI and a review of Robert George’s explanation for the silencing of conservative views in academia at Conservative Review.

Norman Uphoff, professor of government and agriculture at Cornell, reflected on his career as a heterodox professor fighting an uphill battle against a mainstream scientific community.

At Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty reviewed arguments for and... Read more →

Why progressive professors should join Heterodox Academy, especially now

...But if you are a progressive professor who wants to strengthen the left in the long run, raise the credibility and federal funding of universities during a time of Republican dominance, and improve the reliability of the social science research upon which nearly all progressive reforms depend, then now, more than ever, is the time to join HxA. Here is the case for joining and supporting Heterodox Academy, as made by three prominent voices from the left. Read more →

The Birth of the Research University

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 →

Free Speech is the Most Effective Antidote to Hate Speech

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 →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—December 2, 2016 Edition

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

 

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Professor Watchlist: HXA Statement Counterpoint by Robert Mather

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 →


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