According to the buzz in the hallways of The Times Center and on Twitter (#HxA2018), the inaugural Heterodox Academy Open Mind Conference was a great success. For those who were unable to attend, panel descriptions and videos follow below. Transcripts have been generously compiled by friend of Heterodox Academy Stephen Messenger, available on his website, here.
A VIEW FROM THE ACADEMY: HOW A LACK OF VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY HARMS HIGHER EDUCATION
Heather Heying, Lucía Martínez Valdivia, Richard A. Shweder, Nadine Strossen, Scott Jaschik
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.
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?
A CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT ZIMMER
Robert J. Zimmer, Bari Weiss
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.
OPPORTUNITIES ON CAMPUS: THE POWER OF LEADERS AND ADMINISTRATORS
Michael Poliakoff, Michael Roth, Peter Uvin, Mark G. Yudof, Deb Mashek
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.
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.
OPPORTUNITIES BEYOND CAMPUS: POLITICS, POLICY, AND PHILANTHROPY
Wendy Kaminer, Suzanne Nossel, Robert L. Shibley, Scott Jaschik
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?
OPPORTUNITIES IN EARLY DEVELOPMENT: EDUCATING TOMORROW’S COLLEGE STUDENTS
George Khalaf, Lenore Skenazy, Larry Amsel, Tamara Mann Tweel
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.
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.
What’d you think of the conference? We welcome your comments below! Feel free to challenge and disagree, but please try to model the sort of respectful and constructive criticism that makes viewpoint diversity most valuable. Comments that include obscenity or that sound like a tirade or screed are likely to be deleted.