In an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Bari Weiss on Saturday, Heterodox Academy co-founder Jonathan Haidt examined the many forces driving the ongoing contention on campus. Included in the featured dialogue was a section on our projects and initiatives.
Heterodox Academy’s membership has grown to some 600, up about 100 since the beginning of March. “In the wake of the Middlebury protests and violence, we’re seeing a lot of liberal-left professors standing up against illiberal-left professors and students,” Mr. Haidt says. Less than a fifth of the organization’s members identify as “right/conservative”; most are centrists, liberals or progressives.
Balancing those numbers by giving academic jobs and tenure to outspoken libertarians and conservatives seems like the most effective way to change the campus culture, if only by signaling to self-censoring students that dissent is acceptable. But for now Heterodox Academy is taking a more modest approach, focusing on three initiatives.
The first is its college guide: a ranking by viewpoint diversity of America’s top 150 campuses. The goal is to create market pressure and put administrators on notice. The University of Chicago currently ranks No. 1—rising seniors, take note.
The second is a “fearless speech index,” a web-based questionnaire that allows students and professors to express how comfortable they feel speaking out on sensitive subjects. Right now, Mr. Haidt says, there are a tremendous number of anecdotes but no real data; the index aims to remedy that.
The third is the “viewpoint diversity experience,” a six-step online lesson in the virtue and practice of open-minded engagement with opposing ideas.
Heterodox Academy is not the only sliver of light. Following the Middlebury incident, the unlikely duo of Democratic Socialist Cornel West and conservative Robert P. George published a statement denouncing “campus illiberalism” and calling for “truth seeking, democracy and freedom of thought and expression.” More than 2,500 scholars and other intellectuals have signed it. At Northwestern the student government became the first in the country to pass a resolution calling for academic freedom and viewpoint diversity.
You can read the entire piece here (currently behind a paywall) but the Journal did publish a video with Ms. Weiss discussing her interview with Jonathan. It is embedded below, along with suggestions for engaging with us and our resources.
For those interested in learning more about engaging with Heterodox Academy, we invite you to explore our site and learn more about the problem with growing political orthodoxy on campus. More options:
|Share our college care pack with a current or future student to help introduce viewpoint diversity.|
|Sponsor Heterodox University regulations at your school (for current undergraduate students).
They passed resolutions at Northwestern U, and more are sure to come.
|Find and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.|
If you are a tenured or tenure-track professor, we strongly encourage you to join our collaboration.
Adjuncts and post-docs, we will open membership in May.