Why is HxA Necessary?
In order to address society’s most intractable problems, learners must weave together the best ideas from a range of perspectives.
In many fields, scholars’ backgrounds and commitments are insufficiently diverse. As a result, important questions and ideas may go unexplored, key assumptions can go unchallenged, and the natural human tendencies towards motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and tribalism can go unchecked. This undermines research quality and the impartiality of peer review; it can also corrupt committee decisions about admissions, hiring, promotion, and curriculum design. Simultaneously, institutional policies, procedures and incentive models of colleges and universities are changing. The needs, priorities and expectations among new cohorts of students are evolving — even as the political climate in the United States (and beyond) has grown increasingly polarized and toxic. The result is a highly-combustible campus environment. Professors and students alike describe the toll self-censoring and the ever-present threat of social or bureaucratic censure have taken on learning, discovery, and growth.
These problems have not gone unnoticed by lawmakers, the media, or the general public. Many fields and institutions where these trends are most pronounced have faced declining enrollments and budget cuts. Meanwhile, trust in universities, expertise, and scientific research has eroded — reducing the impact and continued viability of many lines of inquiry.
What Does HxA Do?
As a collaborative of academic insiders, we are deeply committed to the continued flourishing of colleges and universities — and deeply concerned about the current state of affairs, which is not sustainable. We aspire to help chart a different path forward by:
- Increasing public awareness of these issues, to spur action among faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors;
- Conducting, disseminating and facilitating research to better understand the nature of the challenges facing institutions of higher learning — and how they can be effectively addressed;
- Developing tools and resources that professors, administrators, and others can deploy to assess and then improve their own pedagogical, disciplinary and broader campus cultures;
- Cultivating communities of practice among teachers, researchers, and administrators to help accelerate the process of reform; and
- Identifying and celebrating institutions that make progress on these matters.