We are an association of more than 1,800 professors and graduate students who are standing up publicly to say that viewpoint diversity is necessary for the health of an institution such as a university that thrives on disagreement and challenge.
All of us endorsed this statement when we joined: “I believe that university life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other. I am concerned that many academic ﬁelds and universities currently lack sufﬁcient viewpoint diversity. I support viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding, and constructive disagreement in my academic ﬁeld, my institution, my department, and my classroom.”
No. Our tendency to challenge orthodoxy occasionally appeals to people on the right; our emphases on empathy, diversity, and tolerance occasionally appeal to people on the left. However, Our mission–to improve the quality of research and education in universities–is apolitical. As far as we know, we are the most politically diverse and politically balanced large group or society of professors to be found anywhere in the academy: according to the latest data, 16% of our members self-identify as conservative, 17% as progressive, 25% as centrist, and 26% as libertarian. Our members share our vision, and in its pursuit see these political differences as a jumping off point for constructive disagreement.
Viewpoint diversity refers to the state of a community or group in which members approach questions or problems from multiple perspectives. When a community is marked by intellectual humility, empathy, trust, and curiosity, viewpoint diversity gives rise to engaged and civil debate, constructive disagreement, and shared progress towards truth. Viewpoint diversity enables colleges and universities to realize their twin goals of producing the best research and providing the best education.
As an association of professors, we analyze challenges facing the academy and recommend solutions. We collect the existing research (much of it conducted by our members). We have created a tool to help universities collect data for themselves (see our Campus Expression Survey). We have developed a tool that can help universities teach their students about viewpoint diversity—see our Open Mind platform.
Increasingly, yes. See our press page. Journalists, academics, administrators and others are increasingly drawing on our work to understand what is happening on campus, and to ﬁnd ways to improve the intellectual climate of the academy.
HxA is an association of professors who endorsed the member statement. Beyond that, we do not poll our members to ask them to weigh in on the constant stream of controversies in academic life. We provide a platform on which our members can express their views. Given the extraordinary diversity of our members by politics and by academic specialization, we would have a great deal of difﬁculty reaching consensus on most controversial topics. So please don’t ask us to weigh in or declare our position as a group on the latest campus controversy or bill in a state legislature. We welcome blog posts from our members on such topics, but they speak for themselves, not for HxA as a whole.
We have created a resource to foster open-mindedness and epistemological humility: the OpenMind platform. It is a standalone self-guided app that takes about 2 hours to complete. You could assign students to complete the app before a class that raises controversial topics. Class discussions should go much better. (The app includes measurement tools to ﬁnd out if things really improved.) Our podcast, Half Hour of Heterodoxy, offers interviews with insightful voices from the academy and beyond. Explore these discussions to learn more about ideas and resources around constructive engagement.
Try to ﬁnd allies who are very clearly left of center and right of center. Find all the faculty who are members of HxA at your school. Then start talking to deans and administrators. Contact BridgeUSA, a growing network of students who want more viewpoint diversity at their colleges. Start a chapter on your campus.
Staff and administrators who directly support the curricular and co-curricular missions of their college or university– such as provosts, deans of student affairs, student life staff, registrars, chaplains, librarians, and others – are encouraged to join as professional affiliates.
If you are not formally affiliated with a university — perhaps you’re the parent of a child in college, or a graduate concerned about your alma mater, or a researcher in the private, government or non-profit sector who struggles with a lack of viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding and constructive disagreement in your field… maybe you’re just a concerned citizen — there are still many ways in which you can be involved: Sign up as a Friend of HxA, become involved with one of our partner organizations, or make a donation to help fund our work.
We encourage everyone to share our content and join the conversation on our social platforms (Twitter or Facebook) — or to make use of our tools such as the OpenMind platform or our Campus Expression Survey. If you have other ideas for how you might like to contribute your time, talent, or treasure to advance the mission of Heterodox Academy, please reach out!