On June 15, 2018 over 350 Heterodox Academy members, community leaders, campus administrators, students, and philanthropists came together in New York for HxA’s inaugural Open Mind Conference.
The conference set the scene for a deep dive into the topics central to HxA’s mission. In conversation with conference attendees, high-profile panelists and moderators defined and diagnosed the problems and challenges facing higher education, articulated the challenges that professors and administrators must navigate on their campuses and in their disciplines, and highlighted existing efforts to create positive change.
One of the most memorable sessions featured Greg Lukianoff, President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Jonathan Haidt, New York University professor and co-founder of HxA, discussing their book, The Coddling of the American Mind. In a conversation with Emily Yoffe of The Atlantic, Lukianoff and Haidt presented the data and the six causal threads they found that rapidly changed campus dynamics between 2014 and 2017. The discussion then shifted to addressing how to improve campus climate and refining their explanations and research.
Another of the conference highlights was a conversation with Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago and recipient of the inaugural HxA Open Mind Award for Institutional Excellence. In a conversation with the New York Times’ Bari Weiss, Zimmer spoke about lessons he learned from his time in the academy, offered advice on how to improve campus culture, and how to lead an institution in a time of rising political polarization.
The conference featured a variety of panels on other topics, including opportunities in early development and the increasing role administrators play on campuses.