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HxAnnouncements

HxAnnouncement

Fourth Round of FFO Grant Recipients Announced

February 15, 2022

HxA’s first ever grant program – the HxCommunities Flexible Funding Opportunity – launched just one year ago, in January 2021. Over the last thirteen months, we have enjoyed reading our members’ proposals and learning about the great work they are doing in their classrooms and on their campuses to champion open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. 

So far, we have awarded approximately $315,000 in grants to support a variety of events, research projects, and other initiatives. It has been an honor to support our members’ efforts in this way. 

Our fourth round of grant recipients illuminates the wide variety within HxA’s membership, which includes individuals working in a number of different fields in 65 countries around the world. In this round, we have scholars in Scotland utilizing the Campus Expression Survey to assess the climate in their field of social work; a psychologist in British Columbia, Canada showcasing diverse perspectives through a new speaker series; a group of classicists working to build their community; and an administrator collaborating with individuals across campus to build bridges and promote free speech rights and responsibilities. Additionally, we are pleased to share an exciting update from a grantee announced last year about a project in Quebec, Canada.

The Heterodox Communities (HxCommunities) and the FFO grants are two HxA member benefits that facilitate connection and collaboration between members as they seek to promote open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. These benefits offer opportunities to find support and community, share resources, and address challenges around these principles.

Read about these projects below and – if HxA can help with efforts taking place in your classroom or institution – please consider applying for your own FFO grant. Funding is still available to support activities taking place before July 15, 2022. 

  • Jane Fenton and Mark Smith

    “Exploring Free Expression in the Social Work Classroom”
    Jane Fenton, Reader and Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, School of Education and Social Work, University of Dundee, and Mark Smith, Professor of Social Work, School of Education and Social Work, University of Dundee | HxSociology

    The issue of free speech is a major contemporary academic and cultural issue, which Jane Fenton and Mark Smith will explore in this piece of research. They are interested in how social work students understand and might respond to particular controversial issues in the course of their studies.

    Fenton and Smith will use their grant to administer Heterodox Academy’s Campus Expression Survey and to host an event later in the spring to share their findings. Through this research and the event, they hope to foster discussion about Heterodox Academy’s three principles: open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. 

    Twitter: @dundeeuni | @onedundee | @UoD_ESW

  • Headshot Robinder Bedi

    “Confronting Hegemonic Ideas Speaker Series”
    Robinder Bedi, Associate Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, University of British Columbia | HxCanada and HxPsychology

    HxA member Robinder Bedi has used HxA funding to create a speaker series in the Counselling Psychology Program Area at the University of British Columbia designed to counter the growing reluctance to openly discuss controversial topics or admit willingness to learn about unpopular viewpoints. True to the title of the speaker’s series (Confronting Hegemonic Ideas), by definition, each speaker provides a heterodox perspective relevant to the field of counselling psychology, and should also be of interest to some members of the HxPsychology and HxCanada Communities. More specifically, the project sets out to:

    • Increase awareness of heterodox viewpoints and inconvenient facts/findings that do not conform to hegemonic narratives and dominant perspectives in counseling psychology, in order to promote critical thinking.

    • Model (by professors) intellectual humility and respectful engagement with speakers who present controversial/unconventional perspectives.

    • Create changes in academic culture and traditions consistent with the values of Heterodox Academy that result in (a) the enhancement of rigor for scholarship and (b) an improvement in the ability of trainee counselors/psychologists to serve those who differ from them, including with respect to political and ideological diversity.

    Websites: Robinder Bedi | Dr. Bedi’s RTS Lab

    Facebook: Dr. Bedi’s RTS Lab

    LinkedIn: Dr. Bedi’s RTS Lab

    Google Scholar: Robinder P. Bedi

    YouTube: Dr. Bedi’s RTS Lab

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  • James Kierstead - HEADSHOT

    Heterodox Classics Dinner Workshop”
    James Kierstead, Senior Lecturer in Classics, Victoria University of Wellington | HxClassics

    On December 17, with support from Heterodox Academy’s Flexible Funding Opportunity, the Heterodox Classics Community was able to host a dinner workshop at The Punter Pub in Cambridge. It was the community’s fourth mixer and fifth panel/workshop, all but one of which has taken place at or on the fringes of larger Classics conferences. The event allowed community participants to take stock of the current prospects for viewpoint diversity in their field and to think about how to further support it in the future.

    Twitter: @Kleisthenes2

    Instagram: @Kleisthenes2

  • Breneman, Jeff headshot

    “We Talk Civil Discourse Initiative”
    Jeffrey Breneman, Vice President for Government Relations, Western Michigan University | HxHigher Ed Leadership

    Jeffrey Breneman, a member of the HxHigher Ed Leadership Community and Vice President for Government Relations at Western Michigan University, is using a Flexible Funding Opportunity grant to engage campus and the Kalamazoo regional community in interactive, educational opportunities that promote civil discourse, viewpoint diversity, and free speech rights and responsibilities through the We Talk initiative he and others founded in late 2019. More than 1,000 campus and community members have participated in this grassroots movement, which is committed to the idea that free speech and social justice can be reconciled and has the support of WMU students, faculty, staff, and campus and community leaders. 

    We Talk programming is designed to shape a vision of what people can achieve by actively engaging with others with diverse backgrounds, interests, and viewpoints through learning/engagement opportunities, resources, and tools. Activities include a 2-day campus/community visit by a nationally recognized author in fall and spring semesters, monthly free speech cafés featuring campus and community panelists, and a conversational exercise that promotes connection and compassion—Moving Conversations @ WMU. Most events are recorded by student videographers, which are published on YouTube and promoted as resources available to campus and the public to support learning in the classroom, workplace and at home. 

    Instagram: @wetalkwmu

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  • Drapeau

    UPDATE: “Heterodoxy in Canada”
    Martin Drapeau, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, McGill University | HxCanada Community

    In November we shared information about the “Heterodoxy in Canada” project led by Martin Drapeau. We are pleased to share the following update from Drapeau about a recent initiative in Quebec related to his team’s activities:

    A bold move to protect academic freedom in Quebec universities

    ​​In March 2021, the government of Quebec launched the Independent Scientific and Technical Commission on the Recognition of Academic Freedom in Universities following reports of censorship in some universities.

    In their final report, which was submitted this past December, the Commission recommended that the Government introduce formal legislation defining academic freedom and forcing universities to promote and defend it. This legislation would also require that universities establish internal committees to defend academic freedom and to hear complaints about breaches to this law, and to report on such breaches to the Government. In addition to this, the Commission issued five statements. First, classrooms are not safe spaces, as all ideas and topics without exception can be debated in a rational and argued way within a university; there is also no such thing as a right “not to be offended”. Second, the use of trigger warnings is entirely up to the professor and should never be imposed by university leadership. Third, universities should have clear policies to avoid online mobbing. Fourth, universities should actively defend the academic freedom of professors, including in court if needed. And fifth, a university should exercise a certain reserve when taking position in a debate, so that the academics from that institution have freedom to express their point of view.

    These recommendations were only recently submitted and have not yet been implemented by the Government. In order to inform the debate about academic freedom and the need for legislation, our research team, thanks to funding received from Heterodox Academy, is conducting a series of surveys of Canadian academics and Canadian students on campus climate. We are also conducting scoping reviews to determine what psychological variables are related to open mindedness and intellectual curiosity, with the hope that we could eventually design programs to foster these qualities in university students. Our findings will be presented at a conference that we are organising and that will be held in April.

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To learn about the first three rounds of HxA’s Flexible Funding Opportunity (FFO) grant recipients, please see our previous announcements from September, November, and December


The HxCommunities Flexible Funding Opportunity was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed by funded programs, projects, or events are those of the individual Grantees, organizers, speakers, presenters, and attendees of such events/activities and do not necessarily reflect the views of Heterodox Academy and/or the John Templeton Foundation.

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