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Heterodox Academy

HxA Member Workshop: How to Teach Diversity Without Division: The Moral Courage Method

Ishrad Manji
May 2, 2021

Sunday, May 2 (4-8pm ET, with scheduled breaks)

Diversity, inclusion, and antiracism are among the hottest -- and most heated -- issues in our society. Many educators feel too intimidated to talk about them honestly. Adopting the Moral Courage Method is a powerful antidote to self-censorship. Moral Courage means doing the right thing in the face of our fears. The behavioral sciences repeatedly show that what human beings fear more than anything else is being judged — being shamed or blamed, being labeled weak, stupid, or unworthy in any way by the group whose respect we covet. Therefore, in any given situation, most people will go with their group’s flow (better known as groupthink). What very few of us know how to do is expose ourselves to different points of view that challenge, and thus clarify, whether we are indeed doing the right thing. Although the tribal impulse is biological, it does not have to become destructive. Us-and-Them is natural and often benign. After all, people who belong to this or that community can still cooperate with one another. Us-versus-Them, on the other hand, turns collaborative potential into a win/lose death match. This is where much of North America finds itself today, especially on issues of social justice. Against this backdrop, the Moral Courage Method teaches people how to engage about polarizing issues without humiliating or canceling each other. The Moral Courage Method disrupts conventional DEI approaches by:
  • moving beyond group labels
  • creating brave spaces for asking burning questions and expressing sincere beliefs
  • motivating young people to hear rather than fear different beliefs
  • demonstrating empathy to be a much smarter, more productive emotion than feeling offended
  • preparing a new generation to be agile instead of fragile when addressing injustices.
In this workshop, educators learned the basics of the Moral Courage Method of DEI:
  • Participants, even those who value viewpoint diversity, discovered the cognitive distortions and other traps that they personally fall into when engaging their “Other”
  • Participants acquired the practical skills to develop relationships across lines of difference and disagreement
  • Participants learned what it means to become Moral Courage Mentors for their own students
This four-hour workshop featured provocative content that reflects our real and messy world, both online and off. Exercises were carried out collaboratively, sometimes in one Zoom room and other times in break-out rooms. The group was kept intentionally small so as to have plenty of time for questions, discussion, reflection, and laughter.

About the workshop leader:

The recipient of Oprah "Chutzpah Award" for boldness, Irshad Manji is founder of Moral Courage College, which teaches people how to engage about polarizing issues without shaming or canceling each other. She is the New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of Don't Label Me: How to Do Diversity Without Inflaming the Culture Wars. (Fun fact: Chris Rock calls the book "genius.") A professor of leadership at NYU for many years, Irshad now lectures with Oxford University. She also serves as the middle and high school specialist for Let Grow, a nonprofit co-founded by Jon Haidt. It promotes independent thinking and emotional resilience in the K-12 space. This workshop is a preview of the online course for educators that she and Let Grow will be releasing this spring.
Questions? Send us an email at 
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