A Letter from the President | October 2023
Dear members and supporters,
Since HxA was founded in 2015, our membership has grown steadily, in both size and activity. Our colleges and universities have never needed us more. I’d like to share with you my sense of the big picture, and update you on the work that HxA is doing.
Even before October 7 and the spectacle of colleges’ blundering responses, levels of trust in higher education were low and getting lower. Despite talk of free speech, universities were granting heckler’s vetoes, using political litmus tests, fueling polarization, and depriving students of the joy of intellectual exchange.
Back on October 5, I gave a talk about this state of affairs. Citing studies showing the declining levels of trust that people have for higher education, I said: “People send their children to institutions that they don't like, they don't trust, and they don't respect.” Too many colleges communicate in “word salad” statements that offer neither principle nor clarity. Little did I know how evident that would become.
With the direction of higher education under intense public scrutiny, it’s a critical moment for change. Do we need pressure from trustees and alumni? Investigative journalism? New institutions? Even the right kind of government action? We can debate any of these, but I say YES to all of the above. Yes, AND. The work of reforming and re-elevating higher education sorely needs academic insiders, like HxA’s 6,200+ members. We love the academy, and we see up close the improvements it needs. Our members have a chance to be the experts, the advocates and exemplars of open inquiry, that can restore people’s faith in higher education.
To that end, the HxA team and membership has been busy. In the coming weeks and months, you can expect:
New deep dives with intellectuals from across the academy on our relaunched podcast, like my conversation with Yascha Mounk
New defenses of open inquiry, such as the “un-cancelation” of HxA Fellow Elizabeth Weiss and colleagues’ November 8th panel on biological sex in anthropology
And, a re-imagined version of the HxA Conference on June 6-8 in Chicago, a great place to consider academic freedom.
These are times to be thoughtful and principled, but not shy. As President of HxA, you can count on me to speak out about what we’re doing and why it matters, and how you can help. For starters, would you forward this message to a friend who doesn’t yet know about Heterodox Academy? Every new subscriber, member, participant, and supporter makes a difference. This is a critical moment for higher education. Forward this message. Help us keep growing!
Thank you for all that you do for HxA, and for the ideal of open inquiry.
Your generosity supports our non-partisan efforts to advance the principles of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement to improve higher education and academic research.