Conferences serve many purposes: participants share perspectives, build relationships, and inspire possibilities. We’d like to think the 2019 HxA Annual Conference hit all of those notes — however, in the absence of subsequent action it would all amount to little.
To close last week’s conference, Jonathan Haidt and Deb Mashek urged attendees to work through the question, “What can you do on Monday?” In other words, what concrete actions might our on-campus colleagues take next week — or perhaps next semester — to advance open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement within their local contexts?
To get the ball rolling, on behalf of Team HxA we submit the following possibilities:
- If you are not already a member, join Heterodox Academy. Membership is open to professors, college staff and administrators, and graduate students who intend to go into academia.
- If you are already a member, invite your colleagues to join too.
- Join or start an HxDisciplines group to accelerate reforms in your particular field of study.
- Reach out to colleagues in your discipline to organize a panel about open inquiry and viewpoint diversity for your disciplinary or professional association’s next conference.
- Visit our member database to see if any of your colleagues – either on campus or at a nearby institution – are likewise members of HxA. Reach out to them. Organize a group email thread. Invite them for coffee. Discuss campus specific issues (e.g. one HxA member shared, “In my university, I’ve partnered with the other HxA member to prod the university to improve its free speech rating with FIRE”).
- Perhaps in collaboration with newfound heterodox enthusiasts in your community, organize a public conversation about a challenging topic facing your campus. Set ground rules that include an expectation that all perspectives are welcomed and all ideas are worthy of challenge.
- Run a Free Intelligent Conversation event on your campus.
- Check out disagreeing speaker pairs you can bring to your campus through The Village Square’s Respect + Rebellion project.
- When you encounter students eager to question with curiosity and humility, suggest they start a chapter of BridgeUSA.
- If you hear of graduate students in your department who are having a difficult time cobbling together a thesis or dissertation committee because the questions they’re considering are somehow “off limits,” reach out to offer your services.
- Add language to your syllabus to set the tone for open inquiry in your courses.
- Advertise your openness to heterodox perspectives in job postings, non-discrimination statements and on your faculty website — inviting applicants from a range of ideological perspectives to apply to work in your department or lab.
- Ask your academic dean to consider offering refuge to an academic in exile from their home country via Scholars at Risk.
- Encourage your office of institutional research to administer the Campus Expression Survey to understand the expression climate on your campus.
- Utilize the OpenMind platform in your classroom or research lab to help students understand how their thinking can go awry, and to prepare them for constructive disagreement.
- Assign All Minus One in your classes or research group — or essays from the HxA blog.
- Consider The Flip Side as an accessible resource to help students see how people on different sides of the political spectrum are thinking about current events.
- If your campus has a Center for Teaching and Learning or other faculty development effort, ask the coordinator to organize a conversation or training to discuss how to help students engage constructively across lines of difference in the classroom and beyond.
- To the extent your teaching schedule allows, offer a course on viewpoint diversity, open inquiry and/or constructive disagreement (e.g. here, here, here, here).
- Start a heterodox book club on your campus.
- Peruse our Teaching Heterodoxy blog posts for other ideas for bringing open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement to your campus.
- Contribute to our blog to tell the world about your successes, innovations and research. Submissions guidelines here.
- Write an op-ed for your local paper about the value of viewpoint diversity in solving a problem your community faces.
- Say ‘yes’ to opportunities to serve on committees where you can uphold the values of open inquiry and viewpoint diversity. Examples include the curriculum committee, hiring committee, diversity committee, and conference program committee.
- Reach out to your colleagues in residence life and student development to ask if and how you might be able to support their efforts—including in the first-year orientation program– to help students develop the habits of heart and mind to engage across lines of difference
Of course, this list is far from exhaustive! As we proceed through the rest of 2019 and into 2020, we look forward to hearing — and amplifying — other ideas and efforts from our colleagues.