A Heterodox Academy Research Symposium
February 23, 2024 at the Stanford Faculty Club
The COVID-19 pandemic put academic researchers in the center of a fast-moving global crisis. An international scientific community rallied to understand a new threat and develop interventions at remarkable speed, but there remains a furious debate about the decisions, medical outcomes, and societal impacts that followed.
This one-day symposium will explore how the academic norms of open inquiry were followed, or not, in responses to COVID, with the benefit of hindsight and the evidence gathered to date. Did researchers come to conclusions too quickly, or too slowly? Did governments do their best with limited evidence, or look for research to match their positions? Did corporations, news media, or politicians skew the scientific process? Did citizens put too much trust in science, or not enough–or is that the wrong way to think about it?
The symposium will be designed to embody the HxA Way and include experts with a range of disciplinary backgrounds and viewpoints about COVID issues. Each session will include a discussion of possible solutions or lessons learned, in a spirit of better applying open inquiry principles to future medical crises such as pandemics. Our goal is insight, not consensus.
The event will be hosted on February 23, 2024 at the Stanford Faculty Club. Part of the HxA Initiative on Open Inquiry in STEM.
Speakers and panels will explore topics related to open inquiry such as…
scientific collaboration and information-sharing
research funding and regulatory approvals
academic publishing, peer review, and publication bias
government and media bias and censorship
government regulation and approval rules
political, partisan, and commercial influences
partisan and group psychology and sociology
….and how such issues relate to aspects of COVID response including…
the race to understand the virus and its origins
the development, release, and evaluation of vaccines and other pharmaceutical interventions
the rollout and evaluation of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lockdowns, masks, and social distancing
scientific advice to public officials
appeals to scientific authority in public communications and debates
educational responses by colleges and universities, on and off campus
….as well as implications for the future:
How can professors, academic disciplines, journals, and universities do more of what succeeded in the COVID response?
How can we prevent errors in the COVID response from being repeated?
What additional research about societal response to COVID is needed?
Join our community of faculty, staff, and students in our efforts to improve the quality of research and education in universities through viewpoint diversity, open inquiry, and constructive disagreement.
Complimentary membership includes access to the new HxA Portal — a private online forum for HxA members and HxCommunities — invitations to members-only events, funding opportunities, professional development opportunities, members-only discounts to HxA Summits, and more.