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HxCommunities Flexible Funding Opportunity Grant Recipients

HxCommunities Flexible Funding Opportunity (FFO) Grants support the important work HxA members are doing to advance constructive disagreement, viewpoint diversity, and open inquiry in education. This ongoing grant offering, the first ever from HxA, is open to HxA members and affiliates who participate in the HxCommunities program, and supports a wide variety of initiatives.

Our recipients represent a variety of disciplines and institutions, and each is an example of how our members are championing HxA values in their communities. Read about the current recipients below. 

  • “Campus Expression in New Zealand”

    Project Leads: HxNew Zealand Community Participants

    The first Flexible Funding Opportunity Grant was awarded to a group of members in the HxNew Zealand community. The recipients are using the funds to administer the Campus Expression Survey to students at the five largest universities in New Zealand. This project aims to explore the extent to which New Zealand university students perceive their educational institutions as embracing heterodox values that welcome respectful disagreement and viewpoint diversity.

  • “Growing Diversity of Thought in K-12 Education: Current Challenges and the Path Ahead”

    Project Lead: Christina LaRose, Researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign | HxK-12 Education Community

    Christina LaRose received an FFO grant to organize a virtual conference, which aimed to empower stakeholders in education to advocate for, and incorporate, diverse perspectives and critical thinking in the classroom. More than 150 educators and administrators attended. Watch session recordings on the conference website.

  • “The Views of Scientists, Engineers, and Professional School Faculty about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policies”

    Project Lead: Steven Brint, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, University of California, Riverside | HxSociology Community

    Steven Brint received a Flexible Funding Opportunity grant to research the views of STEM scholars on the implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. Building on a study by Komi T. German that explores views on these policies from arts and humanities scholars and social scientists at the University of California, Brint’s study will expand the sample to investigate the views of natural scientists, medical scientists, and engineers at the same campus. A presentation and panel discussion will take place when the study is complete. 

  • “Diversity Without Division Awareness Campaign”

    Project Lead: Irshad Manji, Founder, Moral Courage ED | HxK12 Education Community

    Let Grow, the national nonprofit that advocates independent thinking and emotional resilience in young people, has received a Flexible Funding Opportunity grant to advance its work in K-12 schools. 

    The “Diversity Without Division” campaign will introduce school leaders across America to Moral Courage ED, a project of Let Grow that equips students (and their teachers!) to hear, not fear, different perspectives. Moral Courage ED is already living up to its mission by cultivating allies as ideologically diverse as Facing History and Ourselves and the Cato Institute.

    With this grant, Let Grow will distribute to 2,000 school leaders a copy of Don’t Label Me: How to Do Diversity Without Inflaming the Culture Wars. Written by Moral Courage ED founder and Oxford University fellow Irshad Manji, Don’t Label Me is the inspiration behind several professional development tools, including a signature online course, that educators are increasingly adopting.

    If you’re a K-12 leader, or know someone who is, request the book that Jonathan Hait calls “humble, loving, humane” and Chris Rock calls “genius.”

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  • headshot of Drapeau

    "Heterodoxy in Canada"

    Project Lead: Martin Drapeau, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, McGill University |  HxCanada Community

    This nation-wide, multi-faceted initiative in support of heterodoxy in Canada led by Martin Drapeau will 1) conduct surveys of university students to assess campus climate, with a focus on freedom of expression and viewpoint diversity; 2) design a website for Canadian academics and students to promote viewpoint diversity, respect for others, and constructive dialogue; 3) devise a concept map and conduct a scoping review; and 4) host the first Canadian conference on viewpoint diversity in academia on April 22, 2022, at McGill University in Montreal and virtually. 

    Drapeau is working with several fellow HxA members across Canada to complete this project, including HxCanada Community Moderator Andy Sellwood, Vancouver Community College; Samuel Veissières, McGill University; Robert Edward Whitley, McGill University; Annett Korner, McGill University; Raúl Colón, University of Ottawa; Melanie Soderstrom, University of Manitoba; student Maizy Thorvaldson, University of British Columbia; and student Steve Han, University of Toronto.

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  • headshots of Dummit and Patterson side-by-side

    “The Role of Academics in Canada”

    Project Leads: Christopher Dummit, Professor, Canadian Studies, Trent University; and Zachary Patterson, Associate Professor, Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, Concordia University, Montreal | HxCanada Community

    Alongside the student survey administered by the “Heterodoxy in Canada” project team, Christopher Dummit and Zachary Patterson will use their FFO grant to conduct an opinion poll of Canadian university professors, as well as a sample of the Canadian population, to determine respondents’ views on the role of professors today and to gauge respondents’ support for heterodox values. They will also ask whether respondents have themselves experienced threats to academic freedom.

  • headshot of Reusch

    “Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: A High School Course”

    Project Lead: William Reusch, Social Studies Teacher, Shalhevet High School, Los Angeles | HxK-12 Community

    With their FFO grant funding, Will Reusch and team will create a course on critical thinking for high school students. They will design a semester-long curriculum, split into units, for high school teachers and administrators to adopt and implement in their school or district. The project will include an evaluation of the teachers, and their students, who successfully adopt the curriculum.

    Reusch has teamed up with fellow HxA members Zach Cresswell, a math instructor at Mount Pleasant High School (Mt. Pleasant, Michigan), and Robert Rue, an english teacher and writer at The Calhoun School (New York City), to develop this course.

  • headshot of Hasnas

    “Symposium on The Ethics of Freedom of Speech”

    Project Lead: John Hasnas, Professor of Ethics, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University| HxPhilosophy Community

    John Hasnas received FFO funding to support the Symposium on the Ethics of Freedom of Speech. Twelve scholars representing diverse disciplines and ideological viewpoints were invited to consider this topic and write original essays, which were assembled into groups based on their content, for presentation at the symposium on November 19, 2021, and subsequent publication in a Georgetown University public policy journal.

  • headshot of Lindsay Hoffman

    “UDelEngage: Engaging College Students with Civic Engagement and Discourse at a Pivotal Point in their Development as Citizens”

    Project Lead: Lindsay H. Hoffman, Associate Professor, Communication, University of Delaware | HxCommunication Community

    Lindsay Hoffman is utilizing an FFO grant, along with resources and buy-in from campus stakeholders, to scale up existing work and create a lasting presence at UD. Through campus experiences including a symposium and facilitated dialogue; research on best practices; and tools to help other campuses follow their lead, she is cultivating opportunities for the UD campus to model civil dialogue for the next generation.

  • headshot of Kevin Marinelli

    “Symposium of Public Discourse and Deliberation Program Directors”

    Project Lead: Kevin Marinelli, Executive Director, Program for Public Discourse, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | HxHumanities Community

    Through this FFO-funded symposium, Kevin Marinelli is bringing together public discourse and deliberation program directors and associates from campuses across the country to connect with one another, communicate their ongoing initiatives, share their successes and challenges, engage diverse pedagogical techniques, and, ultimately, pool their intellectual resources in the effort to advance a robust framework of rhetorical and deliberative pedagogy well into the twenty-first century.

  • Headshots of Weaver and Ellington

    “The Challenge of Free Speech on Campus”

    Project Leads: Mike Weaver, Director of the Bradley Study Center at Virginia Tech, and Ellington Graves, Director of Africana Studies in the Department of Sociology and Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Virginia Tech | HxHigher Ed Leadership Community

    The Bradley Study Center and the Virginia Tech Office for Inclusion and Diversity partnered for this FFO-funded project to support a campus-wide dialogue on freedom of expression and civil discourse. Professors Robert George, Princeton University, and Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary, engaged in a public conversation on the Virginia Tech campus on March 17, 2022, focusing on the importance of both free speech and civil discourse. A series of in-person and virtual discussions among students and faculty to address the challenges of fostering these core values within the unique context of Virginia Tech followed the event.

  • Headshots of Jane Fenton and Mark Smith

    "Exploring Free Expression in the Social Work Classroom"

    Project Leads: 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 Community

    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 FFO 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 event, they hope to foster discussion about HxA’s three principles: open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. 

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  • Headshot of Robinder Bedi

    "Confronting Hegemonic Ideas Speaker Series"

    Project Lead: Robinder Bedi, Associate Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, University of British Columbia | HxCanada and HxPsychology Communities

    Robinder Bedi received an FFO grant 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), each speaker provides a heterodox perspective relevant to the field of counselling psychology. 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 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.

    View the recording for the March 17 discussion “What is Racial Equality?” featuring Glenn C. Loury, Merton P. Stolz Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Economics, Brown University.

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  • Headshot of James Kierstead

    "Heterodox Classics Dinner Workshop"

    Project Lead: James Kierstead, Senior Lecturer in Classics, Victoria University of Wellington | HxClassics Community

    The Heterodox Classics Community and project lead James Kierstead received an FFO grant 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.

  • Headshoft of Jeffrey Breneman

    "We Talk Civil Discourse Initiative"

    Project Lead: Jeffrey Breneman, Vice President for Government Relations, Western Michigan University | HxHigher Ed Leadership Community

    Jeffrey Breneman, Vice President for Government Relations at Western Michigan University, received 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. 

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  • Headshots of Joseph Bubman and Kira Hamman

    “Mid-Atlantic Dialogue Workshops, Skill-Building, and Campus Expression”

    Project Leads: Joseph Bubman, Adjunct Faculty, Environmental Studies, Georgetown University, and Kira Hamman, Assistant Teaching Professor, Mathematics, Penn State University – Monto Alto | HxMid-Atlantic Community

    This project advances the HxMid-Atlantic Community’s mission of promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement at community colleges and four-year public and private universities across the Mid-Atlantic through 1) Dialogue Across Difference workshops and Difficult Conversations skills classes for students, and 2) sharing of lessons among educators and administrators.

  • headshots of Jeff Glenn and Cougar Hall

    “Navigating diverse perspectives related to social identity and belonging at Brigham Young University”

    Project Leads: Jeff Glenn, Assistant Professor, and Cougar Hall, Professor, Department of Public Health, Brigham Young University | HxHealth Professions Education Community

    Professors Glenn and Hall will partner with Living Room Conversations to organize and evaluate a series of on-campus conversations in which students with diverse perspectives participate in structured dialogues around divisive public health-related topics such as COVID-19, mental health, and racism. The project will train undergraduate students to facilitate these conversations with the goal of increasing respect and shared understanding across differences at BYU and in the broader community.

  • headshot of Geoff Sharrock

    “Building Viewpoint Diversity Visibility in Australian Universities”

    Project Lead: Geoff Sharrock, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne | HxAustralia Community

    Sharrock will work with higher education scholars and stakeholders on how to make viewpoint diversity more visible on Australian campuses. Three main tasks will support this work: up to twenty interviews, two workshops, and a discussion paper. The project will identify current and emerging challenges in this area at the policy and/or practice levels, and ideas for improving policy and/or practice in the promotion of free inquiry and open exchange as defining values in higher learning contexts.

    Personal blog about this project: Project: Building viewpoint diversity visibility – Big Little Thought Crimes in Melbourne

  • headshot of Kelly Anthony

    "Public Health Across the Aisles: Issues, Perspectives, and Politics"

    Project Lead: Kelly Anthony, University of Waterloo | HxCanada

    Health policies demand solid empirical evidence from high-quality research, thoughtful and ongoing discussion, knowledge sharing, and consideration of diverse perspectives. Some issues become so polarizing that open discussion, even of solid research findings, becomes a challenge. Academics working in controversial or sensitive topic areas often find it difficult to contribute to the scientific discourse when their research does not fully align with a prevailing perspective/viewpoint. Even passive dismissal of diverse, evidence-based perspectives runs counter to the foundational value of academic freedom. Further, it limits our ability to allow for a fully informed understanding of certain research areas.

    The need to hear a range of expert perspectives on illicit substance use and/or addiction (e.g., ‘safe supply’, decriminalization, or legalization) is key to developing policies that can address their social, health, and economic consequences. As major drug law policy changes are being considered and implemented in Canada, the US, and elsewhere, policy makers, healthcare professionals, and politicians need access to all relevant research. This panel was created to allow for the full and transparent consideration of challenges, possible unintended consequences, and concerns as we consider drug policy reforms. Policies must be evidence-based and effective, and they must be in the best interests of those who continue to suffer from the ravages of drug addiction.

    This event, ‘‘Moving Forward by Slowing Down: Considering Diverse Perspectives on Drug Decriminalization and Legalization,” will showcase the learnings from the Portuguese National Strategy, which involved a massive shift from a focus on law enforcement to prioritizing addiction treatment and prevention. Immediately following this discussion, several Canadian addictions researchers and clinicians will share their research and experiences. We hope to provide a more complex and nuanced view of what options of decriminalization, medicalization and legalization of substances such as crack cocaine and heroin might look like in a North American context. This event takes place June 7, 1-3:30 p.m. ET, and is free and open to the public. Registration required.

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  • headshots of Siddhartha Roy and Ivan Oransky

    “The Science and Politics of Journal Retractions: A Conversation with Ivan Oransky (Retraction Watch)”

    Project Lead: Siddhartha Roy, Research Scientist, Virginia Tech | HxEnvironmental Engineering and Science (HxEES)

    Why can’t scientific journals be honest about how much gets through peer-review that shouldn’t? Why are some papers retracted following negative publicity on social media but other papers with demonstrably bad science remain untouched? Can valuing and promoting viewpoint diversity help correct the scientific record?

    Siddhartha Roy, HxEES Moderator, spoke with Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, on research integrity, the self-correcting (?) nature of science, and the scientific and political reasons guiding or obstructing journal retractions in our COVID-19 era. This event took place on May 25 at 1p.m. ET. 

    Connect with Sid and Ivan on Twitter: @siddharthaxroy and @ivanoransky

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  • “Barriers in the Pursuit of Creative Freedom”

    Project Lead: Nicola Watson, Lecturer, Robert Gordon University | HxCommunication

    A 4 day summer symposium, aimed at emerging and recent graduates alongside those in academia and the creative industries. There are activities, discussions and workshops planned that help to encourage open inquiry into barriers faced in creative freedom. Starting a wider discussion about the flexibility and innovation of teaching practice in this industry. Are we held back by conventional teaching methods and delivery of creativity? Can we find new ways of engaging those whose ideas differ from the orthodoxy and current ‘gatekeepers’ of what constitutes creative expression? How do we support them?

    Exploring new pathways that can underpin a creative process, alongside talks on freedom within creative expression, while introducing new tools for creative critical thinking.

    The thread throughout the symposium will echo HxA’s mission and message that ‘great minds don’t always think alike, so we need to think together.’ This event takes place in Aberdeen, set in the historic Category B-listed Bon Accord Baths – one of the few remaining pools of its type in the UK, with impressive Art Deco features – surely an inspiring space for creative ideas and thoughts!

    Connect with Nicola on Substack and Instagram: @miss_niw

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  • headshot of Michael Hughes

    “Inaugural HxLibraries Community Read”

    Project Lead: Michael Hughes, Librarian and Associate Professor, Trinity University | HxLibraries

    With his FFO grant, Hughes organized a community read of Julia Galef’s The Scout Mindset for members of HxLibraries with the goal of improving every participant’s ability to defend intellectual freedom and propound its value. Galef’s book and the group discussion helped participants improve the cognitive habits necessary for practicing intellectual charity and humility and help them better understand how to work through epistemic challenges whenever they arise.

    Connect with Michael on LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • headshots of Terry Newman and Andy Sellwood

    “Engaging with Netflix’s series “The Chair” the Heterodox Way: A Guide for Moving Forward”

    Project Leads: Terry Newman, Course Lecturer, McGill Writing Centre, McGill University and
    Andy Sellwood, Instructional Associate, Vancouver Community College | HxCanada

    HxA awarded Newman and Sellwood an FFO grant for their project to turn the Netflix series The Chair into a plug-and-play tool with a lecture guide for the HxA community. The tool uses select scenes from the series to open discussions that encourage a playful, distanced exploration of the potential tensions that can exist on campus among professors, students, and administrators. It introduces and models a constructive dialogue format that encourages participants to exercise charity and humility when encountering different viewpoints.

    Connect with Terry and Andy on Twitter.


  • headshot of Lisa Potter

    “Fireside Chat with Irshad Manji: Dialoguing Through Differences”

    Project Lead: Lisa Potter, Head of School, Seven Acres Montessori | HxK-12 Community

    Potter received a grant to host a fireside chat event with author Irshad Manji and a subsequent staff training based on Manji’s “Diversity Without Division” online course. The Fireside Chat expanded exposure and dialogue around Seven Acres Montessori’s value of diversity of thought as well as the HxA mission. The event attracted a broad group of attendees from the local community and beyond, including Seven Acres parents, staff, and leaders from other private/independent schools and the public school sector. The format encouraged dialogue and questions about how to converse about difficult topics in a respectful and productive way. Concurrently, Seven Acres staff completed the Diversity without Division online course, which served to level-set staff understanding on practical approaches to classroom and family interaction and facilitation.

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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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