In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Americans are discovering that they are divided more deeply, and in more ways, than they had thought. Universities have long sought to study and bridge divisions by race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation and identity, with the goal of creating welcoming and inclusive communities. But now it is clearer than ever before that the political divide must be addressed as well.
To prepare students for democratic citizenship, leadership, effective political advocacy, and success in the politically diverse workplaces they will soon inhabit, it is vital that universities expose students to a range of viewpoints, ideas, and perspectives (as many have argued throughout the ages). The Heterodox Academy Viewpoint Diversity Reading List makes it easy to do so.
We have selected a variety of essays, videos, and books that make the best ideas from progressives, conservatives, and libertarians freely available in just a few clicks from this page. Our list is designed for college students, but it may be useful in high schools, as well as in companies and other organizations that are experiencing internal conflicts over politics.
We have laid out a five-step plan for approaching political diversity. Rather than jumping right in, which is likely to lead to partisan reactions, defensive thinking, and conflicts within the classroom, we offer readings and videos to cultivate a more open mindset over the course of several hours, or during a semester-long course. You are also welcome to explore the materials on your own:
Understand the value of viewpoint diversity. Begin by learning about the advantages of having your beliefs challenged or of discovering that you may have been wrong about something.
Cultivate humility and open-mindedness. Peruse a set of resources, including short quotations from the ancients—East and West–who knew that progress and maturity require us to put aside our everyday pettiness and defensiveness.
Look inside the human mind. Learn about how the mind works and what makes us all prone to be self-righteous and quick to demonize “the other side.”
Learn about political diversity. Explore the mindset, perspective, and principles of the three main philosophical traditions in American politics.
Prepare for political conversations. Practice some tools—such as acknowledgment and perspective taking. Gain some practical skills to help you have productive conversations with individuals with whom you may disagree politically.