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active listening

Want Free Speech and Meaningful Classes on Campus? Encourage Listening.

Well-publicized incidents of speakers being disinvited or shouted down on college campuses, “watch lists” that single out professors at ideological variance from the lists’ creators, and general education classes that many students cannot imagine have real world utility are among the many things that have led some to declare a “crisis” in higher education.  The..

faculty step up

Faculty, It’s Time to Step Up

Colleges have a responsibility to create environments where curious students can explore and grow. Heterodox Academy has guided this effort by drawing attention to the need for increasing open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in academia. Now it’s up to us to do the work. In 2017 I worked with a small group of..

civic

How Universities Have Been Part of the Problem (And Can Be Part of the Solution) for America’s Civic Crises

The United States has seen great increases in how many of us take part in higher education. The percent of Americans who’ve completed four years or more of college has grown nearly sevenfold  just since 1940. Illiteracy rates have plummeted. We have even seen consistent growth in Americans’ average IQ, the so-called “Flynn Effect” from..

flip side logo

Using The Flip Side in the Classroom

In today’s hyper-partisan world, it’s a small comfort to know that Democrats and Republicans at least agree about their disagreements. In a recent survey, 81% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and 76% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said Republican and Democratic voters cannot agree on basic facts of issues. Their viewpoint was validated by a..

curiosity memorization

Curiosity is One Key to Heterodoxy. Forced Memorization is Not

Research shows that intellectual curiosity and openness to ideas are important for academic success. These traits are also relevant for heterodoxy—that is, the more curious people are, the more they will be appreciative of different viewpoints. Studies show that curiosity (but not knowledge) predicts bipartisan attitude convergence about environmental threats such as climate change. Thus,..

open inquiry

10 steps professors can take this semester to promote open inquiry and constructive disagreement in their classrooms

Add language to your syllabi that makes clear open inquiry and constructive disagreement are expected.  Help set the tone in your class by using the syllabus to communicate the value you place on open inquiry and constructive disagreement.  A post on our blog from last January offers some suggestions; the comments on that post provide..

Free Intelligent Conversation

“Free Intelligent Conversation” as a Pedagogical Tool

Free Intelligent Conversation (FreeIC) is a nonprofit organization that facilitates engaging conversations between strangers. It’s simple: participants simply go to public places and hold up signs that read “Free Intelligent Conversation,” inviting people to talk with them about anything and everything. The conversations are then kicked-off using FreeIC Conversation Cards, each containing open-ended questions that..

controversial topics

Don’t Avoid Controversial Topics. Use Them!

Like many faculty members, there are times in class when I joyfully watch students actively engage in constructive disagreement. Unfortunately, they do not happen enough. Too many students avoid openly challenging their peers on controversial topics. The old adage, “go along to get along” rules their classroom interactions. This inclination towards avoidance often infects my..

foxes hedgehogs

Prepare Students to Be Foxes, Not Hedgehogs

In his oft-quoted 1953 essay, Isaiah Berlin draws upon a reference to the Greek philosopher Archilochus, translated as: a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog one big thing. Although the original essay was primarily focused on Tolstoy (who Berlin classified as a tortured combination of fox and hedgehog), it’s been used in several other..