Heterodox Academy is a collaboration of professors, grad students and other university stakeholders who are committed to promoting viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning. Our blog serves as an outlet for sharing research, tips and tools to facilitate these goals. We welcome contributions from our members, as well as academics who have not yet joined (although we encourage you to join!)
We are methodologically and ideologically diverse, and welcome contributions from authors from across the disciplinary and political spectrum. However, in order to maintain this diverse community of scholars and readers, we insist upon particular norms of communication and engagement (the “HxA Way”):
- Make your case with evidence, and link to that evidence whenever possible, or describe it when you can’t. Any specific statistics, quotes or novel facts should have linked citations.
- Avoid sarcasm, contempt, hostility, and “snark.” The tone should be (accessibly) academic, not polemical.
- Be charitable and humble. Feel free to criticize anyone and anything — including Heterodox Academy. However, try to acknowledge, when possible, the respects in which the actor or idea you are criticizing may be right as well. Also, consider the reasons why that actor or idea may seem compelling to other reasonable, informed and intelligent people. Acknowledge limitations to your own arguments or findings as relevant.
- Be constructive. Help readers to see new possibilities, and consider practical steps that could be taken to address problems whenever feasible. And avoid hyperbole when describing perceived problems, threats or adversaries.
- Be interesting, quickly. Blog posts are not like academic papers where you can develop your thesis gradually. Try to grab readers’ interest in the first paragraph, and point to what the post will be about by the end of the second paragraph.
We are particularly eager for the following types of submissions:
These essays are designed to draw readers’ attention to key studies and empirical findings related to the challenges Heterodox Academy is seeking to address including: 1) problems with research and pedagogy that result from a lack of viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding or constructive engagement across difference 2) changing social and institutional dynamics related to freedom of conscience, inquiry or expression — particularly in institutions of higher learning 3) bridging differences, especially socio-political and moral differences and 4) the evolving relationship between institutions of higher learning and the societies in which they are embedded.
Summaries of work analyzing the causes, scope, significance or trends of these phenomena are welcome. However, we are particularly keen for studies that look towards (or test!) possible solutions to apparent challenges as well.
- In terms of structure, Research Summaries should briefly describe the problem or phenomenon the study is trying to explore, along with its methods and key findings. Authors should then explain how the summarized research relates to the sorts of problems Heterodox Academy is trying to address (in other words, “why should we care?” or “How can we use this?”).
- The goal should be to highlight exemplary research. This is generally not a space to critique or debunk others’ work. However, exceptions can occasionally be made for particularly important research that has generated a lot of public interest (e.g. here)– especially if the study in question suffers from glaring and easy-to-explain errors that could likely have been avoided through increased engagement with others who hold different priors and commitments.
- Although it is most common for Research Summaries to be focused on one particular study someone else has published (e.g. here), we would also welcome essays describing authors’ own original published findings (e.g. here), or essays that put multiple published studies into conversation to arrive at a deeper understanding (e.g. here).
- Keep in mind that Research Summaries are intended to distill key findings for a non-specialized audience, or for scholars who may be outside the authors’ own field. Please limit the use of technical terms or jargon, and provide brief explanations of any specialized language or acronyms that are used.
- Concision is also critical (graphs and charts can be very helpful here!). Although there are no firm length requirements for these essays, aim for a maximum of 2,000 words (the more efficient, the better).
Heterodox Academy’s members are committed to promoting viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding and constructive disagreement in their research and pedagogy. However, translating these aspirations into concrete action, into tangible changes in the classroom (and beyond) can often be intimidating or challenging.
Fortunately, our network includes hundreds of seasoned educators in a wide-array of institutions and fields. Our Teaching Heterodoxy series attempts to crowdsource the insights and strategies of our professors and administrators to make it easier for all of us to put our commitments into practice. It is an opportunity for educators to share things they have tried that were successful, or to work through some of the difficulties with implementing our shared aspirations in the real world.
- Essays for this series should be relatively short, think 750- 1200 words, and should focus on concrete steps that you have taken — or good ideas you’ve heard from others and are eager to try yourself – regarding how to integrate viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding or constructive disagreement into pedagogy.
- Practitioner strategies for more fruitfully engaging wider perspectives or adversarial collaborators in research are also welcome here, as well as advice for de-biasing peer review and committee decisions within departments (such as for admitting grad students, hiring and promoting faculty, etc.), or strategies for identifying, recruiting and retaining faculty with underrepresented backgrounds, perspectives and research interests (to include innovative methodological or theoretical approaches).
- Here is how a Teaching Heterodoxy post would typically go: describe the technique or idea and its pedagogical purpose (i.e. “In order to help students understand ____, I ask them to_____”). Then detail how it is implemented, how (if) and why it works, and any advice you may have for others who may want to give it a shot at their own institutions of higher learning (as useful, you can lead with a little about yourself and your students, your area of study or your institutional affiliation as well).
Heterodoxy in History
Peer review and academic committees are premised on the idea that seeking consensus among experts or practitioners is likely to produce the best outcomes for a field – both epistemologically and institutionally.
However, as we all know, the consensus position in a field is sometimes wrong. At times, the errors can be grievous. This is the main reason why viewpoint diversity is so important in social research: to help identify and challenge problematic axioms, to draw attention to phenomena the field neglects, to conceptualize new and more effective ways of understanding and addressing social problems, etc.
The idea behind our Heterodoxy in History series is to provide readers with concrete instances that our understanding of the world was improved by those who bucked the prevailing orthodoxy: the dissenter whose views were long ignored, dismissed or maligned but later vindicated; the outsider who changed a field because (s)he was unencumbered by its dominant assumptions and norms; the long-running debates within a field that led to important breakthroughs, discoveries or new lines of inquiry, etc.
- Our goal with this series is to provide a teaching tool (easily assigned as readings), or a resource for laymen, to underscore why viewpoint diversity and engagement across difference are so important – through accessible, concrete and compelling historical examples, drawn from a range of fields and disciplines. Hence, it is important to keep these essays relatively concise as well: an ideal length would be between 1200 – 2000 words.
- Authors should explain a particular problem or question that a field was trying to solve, or a phenomena scholars struggled to explain. They should briefly explain what the prevailing consensus was, the obstacles faced (or consequences borne) by a thinker who wanted to change it, and how these historical figures and their findings or theories have proven highly-significant in retrospect.
- Explorations of pre-modern dissenters (for instance, from the “classical period,” the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or Enlightenment-era) are welcome too. And we are particularly eager to receive works highlighting important contributions of non “Western” thinkers or critical innovations provided by members of groups who were historically marginalized or underrepresented in the academy – especially in those cases where a scholars’ unique background, commitments or experiences informed their groundbreaking work.
How to Submit
All submissions are subject to a review by our editorial team. Please direct drafts or pitches to Heterodox Academy’s Communications Director, Musa al-Gharbi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- In the subject line, write “HxA” followed by the submission category (i.e. Research Summary, Teaching Heterodoxy, Heterodoxy in History), and your name [Example, “HxA Research Summary, Jon Haidt”].
- Give you submission a similar filename [e.g. “HxA_Research Summary_Haidt”].
- Include your name, title, and institutional affiliation at the bottom of your essay – and links to any websites or social media accounts you would like to direct readers towards [Example, “Jonathan Haidt is a professor in the Business and Society Program at NYU Stern. You can follow him on Twitter @JonHaidt”].
We try to reply to all submissions with an acceptance (and suggested edits) or a decline (and as relevant, suggestions for alternative placement) within a week. However, due to the volume of submissions, this may not always be possible. If you have not heard back from us for some time, or if there is some compelling reason why you need a confirmation/disconfirmation of interest more immediately, it is acceptable to send a follow-up inquiry.
The two main reasons why submissions are rejected are because the editors have decided 1) the content fails to comply our standards and guidelines or 2) the content does not provide research, tips or tools that effectively facilitate Heterodox Academy’s core mission. Additionally, we generally do not syndicate content originally published elsewhere.
Other Ways to Contribute Your Perspectives
We invite all readers to follow and engage Heterodox Academy on Facebook and Twitter, and to take part in discussions in the comment sections of our posts. A couple more ways to join the conversation include:
Half Hour of Heterodoxy (HHH)
- Hosted by Heterodox Academy co-founder and Georgia Tech sociologist Chris Martin, our popular bi-weekly podcast features scholars whose research or findings embody Heterodox Academy’s aims or facilitate its mission. If your research or advocacy tightly connects with our core concerns, and especially if you have work you would like to discuss (typically a journal article or book), feel free to reach out to HxA Communications Director Musa al-Gharbi (email@example.com) with a bit about your research and interests. Please note that only a small number of scholars (20-25) are typically selected in a given year – but we are happy to consider proposals, and to build a roster of interested and interesting potential guests.
- Our Raindrops initiative seeks to enrich discussions about institutions of higher learning through first-hand accounts from members of the academic community, detailing their experiences on campus with regards to viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding or engagement across difference. More information is available here.