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Heterodox Academy


Covid summit
COVID and the Academy: What Have We Learned?

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.

Confirmed Speakers

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

Documents Black RGB

….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?

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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.

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