Discussing viewpoint diversity and open inquiry in the academy.
What’s it all about?
The HxA Conference will convene Heterodox Academy members, community leaders, campus administrators, students, and philanthropists to discuss viewpoint diversity and open inquiry in the academy. In conversation with conference attendees, high-profile panelists and moderators will define and diagnose the problems; articulate the challenges that professors and administrators must navigate on their campuses and in their disciplines; highlight existing efforts to create positive change in classrooms and on campuses; and explore stakeholder-specific strategies to improve campus climate.
View the conference schedule and recordings of the panels below.
8:30 Est A View from the Academy: How A Lack of Viewpoint Diversity Harms Higher Education
Media accounts of speaker disinvitations, classroom protests, and the proverbial eggshells scattered around campus may seem strange or unbelievable to those who have been away from campus for the last few years. Panelists – all professors – share their personal experiences and professional insights to illustrate some of the challenges academics face in both their teaching and scholarship.
9:30 Est The Coddling of the American Mind, and Several Other Trends That Brought Us Here
Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff, Emily Yoffe How did we get here? Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt identified many of the current trends in their 2015 Atlanticarticle, “The Coddling of the American Mind.” Over the next two years, the situation intensified. In this session, they present data documenting the trends and then explain the six causal threads that have intersected in the 2010s to bring about the rapid change in campus dynamics that occurred on many (but far from all) campuses between 2014 and 2017. To set us up for more productive discussions of how to improve campus climate, the discussion then focuses on questioning and refining their causal explanations. VIDEO COMING SOON.
10:30 Est Big Questions and Heterodox Answers
Alice Dreger, Shadi Hamid, Angus Johnston, John McWhorter, Jason Stanley, Kmele Foster This panel, comprised of people with a range of viewpoints, identifies key tensions and unanswered questions vis-à-vis viewpoint diversity, open inquiry, and constructive disagreement in the academy and beyond. Is there really a free speech crisis on campus, and, if so, who’s to blame? At what point do additional viewpoints no longer add value to learning and discovery? Who gets to decide? Does the effort to bring more voices to campus undermine another robust value: inclusion? What is the core purpose of higher education today? And how does all of this relate to our increasingly polarized political discourse and affect our country’s future?
1:15 Est A Conversation with Robert Zimmer
In addition to recognizing individuals with HxA Open Mind Awards, Heterodox Academy also sought to recognize the college or university that has done the most to advance or sustain viewpoint diversity either on its own campus or nationally. We are delighted to welcome to the stage Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago, recipient of the inaugural HxA Open Mind Award for Institutional Excellence. As a vocal advocate for open inquiry in the academy, President Zimmer provides an example of the influence of principled leadership. He discusses lessons he has learned and offers advice on how to improve campus culture and lead an institution in a time of rising political polarization.
1:45 Est Opportunities on Campus: The Power of Leaders and Administrators
Administrators play a key role in cultivating campus and classroom culture. In this panel, we highlight the efforts and insights of administrators who have taken a lead in shaping policy and practice in support of greater viewpoint diversity and open inquiry within their local contexts.
2:45 Est Opportunities In the Classroom: What Professors Can Do to Make A Difference
Robert P. George, Allison Stanger, Jonathan Zimmerman, Kmele Foster As the locus of academic learning, the classroom is the most critical space in which varied viewpoints must be welcomed and engaged. All students must feel included. Yet with the rise of “call out culture,” students now often report that they are “walking on eggshells” and afraid to contribute their ideas to discussion or even to ask questions. What can individual professors do to help students develop fluency with a range of ideas and be able to synthesize those ideas in service of critical questions and pressing problems? This panel highlights the classroom practices of professors who have found ways to navigate the current climate and foster dynamic classroom discussions.
3:45 Est Opportunities Beyond Campus: Politics, Policy, and Philanthropy
The academy is a historically admired institution embedded within a broader social, political, cultural, and economic context. This context is changing rapidly as America’s culture wars intensify and various players strive to change, regulate, save, or harm universities. The speakers in this session will consider the pressures coming from legislatures, courts, political activists, journalists, and philanthropists. How might we shape, work with, or resist such forces to reach the day when vibrant universities inspire broad public support and admiration?
4:30 Est Opportunities in Early Development: Educating Tomorrow’s College Students
Tomorrow’s college students are today’s children and adolescents. Their levels of anxiety, depression, self-injury, and suicide are much higher today than they were just eight years ago. What is going on, and how can parents and educators reverse this awful trend? How can universities work with high schools to better prepare students to thrive in college and grow from exposure to diverse viewpoints and ideas? The panelists offer concrete recommendations for parents and teachers, as well as for college administrators who want to understand, help, and teach iGen, the generation after the Millennials.
5:15 Est Closing Discussion: Towards a More Heterodox Academy
Jonathan Haidt, Deb Mashek Heterodox Academy seeks to improve the quality of research and teaching in universities by increasing viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding, and constructive disagreement. This session highlights the organization’s key efforts to date and previews its next steps toward nurturing a more vibrant academy.