We are beginning to see a few universities taking concrete steps to show that they value viewpoint diversity and the free and open exchange of ideas. An article over the weekend in The Wall Street Journal describes some of these steps and discusses them in the context of HxA’s newly revised Guide to Colleges. (See Colleges Pledge Tolerance for Diverse Opinions, But Skeptics Remain, by Douglas Belkin.)
The article opens with a discussion of an extraordinary step at Johns Hopkins (for which we just raised its HxA score and its rank):
A string of protests on college campuses that shut down events hosting conservative speakers has prompted universities around the country to pledge more tolerance for diverse opinions, but skeptics say they’ll believe it when they see it. Johns Hopkins University announced Thursday a $150 million effort to “facilitate the restoration of open and inclusive discourse.”… The new initiative at Johns Hopkins, an institute funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, hopes to “examine the dynamics of societal, cultural and political polarization and develop ways to improve decision-making and civic discourse,”
The article contrasts Hopkins with Harvard (as well as Berkeley and Yale):
Harvard University, which has repeatedly been in the crosshairs of free-speech advocates, was 103rd out of 106 schools in the Heterodox ranking. Heterodox, which weighs schools’ regulations as well as the ratings of other first-amendment groups, cited Harvard’s history of censoring outside speakers, a blacklist on private clubs, fraternities and sororities, and a laminated “social justice” place mat handed out to students before winter break in 2015.
The article closed by discussing our top-ranked school:
The top-ranked school is the University of Chicago. Provost Daniel Diermeier said the ideal of viewpoint diversity is central to the university’s mission. “We believe that the best education we can provide students to prepare them for the world is to hear diverse points of view even if they feel uncomfortable,” Dr. Diermeier said. “We want to provide them with the tools to find counterarguments.
We invite you to read the entire piece online and add your thoughts in the comments below.
Opinions expressed are those of the author(s). Publication does not imply endorsement by Heterodox Academy or any of its members. We welcome your comments below. Feel free to challenge and disagree, but please try to model the sort of respectful and constructive criticism that makes viewpoint diversity most valuable. Comments that include obscenity or aggression are likely to be deleted.