The problems of rising orthodoxy and declining political diversity are complex, and there are no easy solutions. These trends are surely related to broader trends in American (and other) societies, including rising political polarization with rising cross-partisan animosity, and rising use of social media with its tendency to promote “mobocracy” and intimidation of dissenting views. These problems call for careful social-scientific analysis — which is the specialty of many of our members. Because of the complexity of these problems — and the speed with which they are changing–we do not favor heavy handed legislative solutions, such as one proposed by a state legislator in Iowa that would require universities to only hire members of the political party that is currently underrepresented. As Jon Haidt said in his 2017 annual letter:
As a general principle, I am concerned whenever universities become political footballs, to be moved down the field by whichever team has the power to do so. I think that most members of Heterodox Academy want to reduce the politicization of academic life, and we are trying to do that from within. Heterodox Academy will oppose threats to academic freedom from either side.
At Heterodox Academy, we offer analysis, research, and commentary that will help the academy to understand its problems and move toward solutions. Please browse our blog. In addition, we have created a number of resources that may be helpful:
- Description: Materials to help students request that their collegiate government vote on a resolution to make their school a “Heterodox Academy” where viewpoint diversity is supported. (See also our “college care pack” to educate college students and college-bound high school students on the importance of viewpoint diversity).
- Audience: Current students in colleges/universities, as well as prospective students who would prefer to attend Heterodox U rather than Orthodox U. May be of interest to high school students too.
- Description: An online resource that collects all available information on the degree of orthodoxy/heterodoxy at America’s top 150 universities, as well as at its top 50 liberal arts schools. Our Guide to Colleges is designed to help those who would prefer to attend Heterodox U, rather than Orthodox U. Eventually we’ll add up all the indicators to provide an overall rating and ranking of schools by viewpoint diversity.
- Audience: High school students and their parents who are evaluating colleges.
- Status: First edition is online. A more reliable second edition will be posted in Spring 2017.
- Description: A set of readings and videos that can be used during first-year orientation (or at any point, in any organization) to prepare everyone to encounter and respect people with different values and beliefs. We hope that many universities will make this “experience” a pre-requisite for joining the campus community.
- Audience: Educators, administrators, and incoming college students; also suitable for use in corporations, NGOs, and other organizations that want to avoid the dangers of orthodoxy and reap the benefits of viewpoint diversity.
- Status: Expected launch in April 2017. But you can browse it now.
- Description: A web-based survey that any professor, dean, or administrator can use to measure the degree to which students feel free to speak up in class, versus feeling that they are “walking on eggshells” and must keep quiet to avoid being punished for their questions or ideas. The FSI is the first survey that measures which kinds of people have which kinds of fears when talking about which specific topics. The FSI can help educators figure out exactly where the problems are, and what they must do to achieve the kind of open intellectual environment that nearly all say they want. The tool is also being evaluated for use in businesses that want to foster a “speak up” culture.
- Audience: Educators and administrators, in high school as well as college.
In addition to the projects above, we also list here some recommendations that several of our members have made in their published books and papers:
A) From Duarte, J. L., Crawford, J. T., Stern, C., Haidt, J., Jussim, L., & Tetlock, P.E. (2015). Political diversity will improve social psychological science.
We offer a section of recommendations that the major professional organizations in psychology can take, particularly APA, APS, SPSP, and SESP. Here is that section:
“Diversity is a well-established value throughout the academy, and it enjoys broad support in psychology. The American Psychological Association has been very thoughtful
about how to promote diversity within the field, and it issued a major report in 2005. Its task force focused on diversity with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, but most of the specific recommendations in the report are appropriate for promoting political diversity as well (American Psychological Association 2005). Below are five of the report’s 45 recommendations, which we have edited only slightly:
1. Formulate and adopt an anti-discrimination policy resolution.
2. Implement a “climate study” regarding members’ experiences, comfort/discomfort, and positive/negative attitudes/opinions/policies affecting or about members of politically diverse groups.
3. Expand the Publication and Communications Board’s database of conservative, moderate, and libertarian researchers who have expertise to serve as ad hoc reviewers or on editorial boards.
4. Conduct a study of barriers/obstacles that non-liberal students face within training programs, with the intent that these data subsequently be used in establishing formal suggestions for enabling the training of non-liberal students.
5. Each organization should develop strategies to encourage and support research training programs and research conferences to attract, retain, and graduate conservative and other non-liberal doctoral students and early career professionals. Examples might include dissertation awards, travel funds for presentations and attendance at conferences, and other financial support targeted to graduate students.
B) From Crawford, Duarte, Haidt, Jussim, Stern, & Tetlock (2015), “It may be harder than we thought, but political diversity will (still) improve social psychological science”
This article is our “response to the commentaries.” Based on some helpful points raised in the commentaries, we revised the recommendations we made in our target article for actions that individuals can take. Here is the list of steps from our response article, aimed mostly at guiding individuals in their teaching and research:
1. Acknowledge the problem and raise awareness about it.
2. Seek feedback from non-liberals.
3. Expand organizational diversity statements to include politics.
4. Add a statement to your own academic website acknowledging that you encourage collaboration among people of diverse political views.
5. Eliminate pejorative terms referring to non-liberals; criticize others’ scholarship when they use those terms. As an editor or reviewer, do not permit such terms to
pass without comment.
6. Avoid “leakage” of political hostilities or presumptions (including jokes) when functioning in any teaching or research capacity, but especially around students and junior colleagues.
7. Encourage young scholars who are not liberals to pursue careers in social psychology.
8. Be alert to double standards. Use turnabout tests to reveal bias.
9. Support adversarial collaborations that encourage competing ideological camps to explore the boundary conditions on each other’s claims, in joint data collection and model building efforts.
10. Assign in classes, especially for graduate students, the growing scholarship taking social psychology and related disciplines to task for having a scientific problem stemming from political bias (Brandt et al. 2014; Crawford 2012; Eagly 1995; 2011; Inbar & Lammers 2012; Jussim 2012a; 2012b; Jussim et al., in press a; Redding 2001; Tetlock 1994). Teach eliminating such biases as a core component of methods, validity, and scientific integrity.
11. Use Washburn et al.’s checklist in one’s own work, especially in politicized areas.
12. Use Popperian falsification. If you are a liberal social psychologist, to guard against potential bias, seek to falsify rather than confirm your preferred prediction.