Heterodox Academy co-sponsored a panel discussion hosted by the Colloquia student group at Columbia University on December 5, 2019. Colloquia, a student group that aims to increase viewpoint diversity and free speech on their campus, decided to end the semester by holding a “State of the University Address” to examine and explain the state of American universities today.  

With roughly 100 people in attendance – a combination of the Columbia University and HxA communities – the event started with an introduction delivered by Columbia student and HxA Open Inquiry Award Winner Coleman Hughes. Hughes spoke about his personal experiences advocating for open inquiry and viewpoint diversity and why he thinks it’s a cause that many more of his fellow students should be pushing for.

Then, the panelists – Jonathan Haidt (Professor at NYU, author, and co-founder of HxA) and Debra Mashek (HxA Executive Director) – took the floor. In a conversation moderated by Barnard College psychology professor and HxA member Scott Barry Kaufman, they explained what challenges are facing our institutions of higher education, where those challenges stem from, and what can be done to address them. With a large chunk of Q&A time with the audience, the panelists listened, responded to criticism, shared stories from their work, and left the audience with tips for steps they can take to help achieve HxA’s mission.

Following the event, the HxA members in attendance joined Jonathan and Debra for drinks and conversation at a bar nearby. HxA strives to create communities among our membership and this informal gathering allowed members to delve deeper into the material that was discussed, share stories and advice, and get to know fellow members and HxA staff.