Heterodox Academy provides frameworks, data, tools, and platforms to help people understand and address the challenges facing institutions of higher learning with respect to open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. However, reform does not occur simply by virtue of us providing these resources; institutional change happens when our members and allies put them to use – acting in their local communities, in the classroom, at the institutions they are affiliated with, with colleagues in their disciplines, etc. HxA helps inspire, encourage, facilitate, and amplify ideas and initiatives by our members and fellow travelers – who are themselves the actual agents of change.
Since our September 2015 launch, we have seen a radical increase in the number of people who are aware of the challenges HxA exists to address and are committed to doing something about these challenges. Scholars have launched research collaborations, working groups and events; they have developed pedagogical innovations; members have sought out ways to better institutionalize heterodoxy in everything from course syllabi, to job ads, to non-discrimination and diversity statements; they have been making their case to their colleagues and other academic stakeholders through public talks, publications, and social media engagement. And progress is being made as a result of their initiative, courage, hard work, and perseverance.
However, as greater attention is being paid to the issues we are trying to address, as the movement continues to grow and incorporates a larger and more diverse array stakeholders, and as more and more efforts are being developed and launched without the direct involvement of HxA leadership (which is the goal!) – questions increasingly arise about how members and those inspired by our organization and its work should describe their relationship with Heterodox Academy, and the connections between HxA’s efforts and their own.
Some cases are clear. For instance:
Faculty/ Departmental Web Pages:
Many universities and departments provide faculty (and often, staff) with web pages to discuss their academic background, their research interests, the courses they teach, the initiatives they are involved in, etc. These are great places to mention one’s HxA membership — or even encourage others to join. These sites are important institutional signals, and noting your HxA affiliation on these pages can help indicate to colleagues, students, prospective students or collaborators, journalists, etc. that you are a scholar who is committed to open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement — and help elevate the salience of this mission for those who happen to view your page. We encourage all members to add a blurb about HxA to their faculty pages if possible.
For professional (.edu) email addresses, it can be helpful for raising awareness of Heterodox Academy and its mission within one’s institution and peer networks if one includes mention of their HxA membership in the signature line of their email. For instance:
[RANK], [DEPARTMENT], [UNIVERSITY]
Member, Heterodox Academy
This is an easy way to signal your affiliation, and to help support HxA’s mission (under the assumption, of course, that one will be using their university email primarily to engage in their professional duties, and in a style that is generally resonant with the ‘HxA Way‘).
HxA provides Membership Certificates to those who join, or have joined. We invite our members to display these certificates proudly in their offices, labs, etc. as a signal to one’s students or peers within a higher ed institution that one is committed to open inquiry, viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement. This can help grant social permission for others to similarly stand up for these values, or to feel more confident in challenging orthodoxies.
Cases like these are fairly straightforward: affiliate away! These are easy and effective means to help increase awareness of HxA and its mission within institutions of higher learning — and to signal to those in your professional networks that you personally support open inquiry, viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement.
However, there are other situations that are a little more ambiguous, for legal and other institutional reasons. With respect to some of those instances, we have developed the following guidance:
Social Media Profiles
We encourage all HxA members and supporters to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to dive into the conversations on these forums, and to share the content that we post as desired. However, please do not put ‘@HdxAcademy member’ of any variation of this (i.e. @HdxAcademy) as part of one’s social media profile(s).
While we understand and appreciate the intent to help raise interest about HxA and to signal pride in membership, the reality of the matter is that most of us are not engaging as professionals or modeling the ‘HxA way’ in all of our social media interactions (although it would be great if we did!). Nor do most abstain from topics that could violate HxA’s 501c3 status in all of their social media posts (for instance, many argue for or against various political parties, candidates, policy proposals, business interests, etc.). Even with respect to issues that directly bear on HxA’s mandate, it may not be the case that individual member opinions, as expressed on social media, are representative of most other HxA members or of the posture of the organization itself.
Hence, it is important not to give the impression that one is speaking as a representative of Heterodox Academy, or that one’s personal views on a given topic are characteristic of those of HxA or its membership, via one’s social media profile. The easiest way to do this is to simply refrain from affiliating one’s personal social media profile with Heterodox Academy.
Op-eds and Media Inquiries
HxA has a team of appointed research assistants, faculty fellows, and members of the leadership team who occasionally publish op-eds and list their institutional role at Heterodox Academy in their byline. However, these works are typically proposed, produced and workshopped within our writers’ group to ensure that they appropriately model our organizational values, do not violate our 501c3 status, and make a novel and valuable contribution to the public discussion on these issues.
Many other HxA members also independently produce and publish op-eds and engage with the media. This is great! We strongly encourage our members and sympathizers to make the case for open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in op-eds, media interviews, public talks, and other public forums – and to model our organizational values when engaged in the public sphere. We similarly encourage people to spotlight our data, tools, resources, and initiatives – and to invite others to join – whenever it is sensible to do so.
However, please not add ‘HxA member’ to one’s byline for independently produced and published works, for instance:
[NAME] is a [POSITION] in [DEPARTMENT] at [UNIVERSITY] and a member of Heterodox Academy.
Although the intention behind such bylines may be to help drum up attention for the organization or signal pride in one’s membership – it also positions one as a representative or agent of Heterodox Academy. Consequently, many could gain the false impression that one’s independently-produced and published work was approved by the organization, or is representative of the views of HxA leadership or other members. This could be especially damaging when staking out a strong stance on a controversial topic (which could alienate other members or potential members insofar as this was perceived to be the position of HxA writ large), or when engaged in activity that would violate our 501c3 status (i.e. arguing for or against any particular ballot initiative, political candidate, political party or business interest).
In a similar vein, journalists often turn to our member database to identify scholars who are engaged in interesting work in various fields or who could be quotable experts on various topics. If a journalist reaches out to you in virtue of your membership in HxA, or if Heterodox Academy otherwise comes up in the context of an interview, feel free to mention that you are a member. However, please also emphasize that you are speaking for and as yourself, not as a representative of Heterodox Academy.
If a reporter asks for HxA’s position on a given topic — or for information about the organization — and you are unsure of the answer, please do not feel compelled to ‘guess’ or ‘wing it.’ Instead, simply direct the journalist to our Communications team (email@example.com) for more information about HxA or comments from HxA.
Open letters/ Statements
HxA leadership has generally discouraged open letters and collective statements on two grounds:
First, we view it as central to our mode of engagement that scholars should speak for and as themselves rather than appealing to collectives or hiding behind anonymity.
Second, the reason a long list of signatories follows a statement, the reason people often try to get prominent members of the academy to sign an open letter, etc. – that is, the *work* that is supposed to be accomplished by the signatures — is to appeal to institutional power dynamics or sheer force of numbers to persuade, over and above whatever arguments or data may be contained in the letter (of which, generally, there is very little). As Jon Haidt put it, “Such letters are efforts to ‘win’ by applying social pressure — magnified by social media and (often) the news media — rather than using the proper method of the academy: reasoned argument.”
But we also appreciate that the use of this tactic (open letters, collective statements) is an issue about which there can be reasonable disagreement, and there is disagreement within our membership about the appropriateness and efficacy of taking such measures. Hence, the HxA leadership team has also offered guidance and best-practices (available here) for those whose conscience moves them to compose or otherwise take part in an open letter or collective statement.
However, we ask that if one signs onto such a statement they do it exclusively as a scholar affiliated with a given department or academic institution, not as a representative of HxA in any capacity. For instance, one should never sign a letter or statement as:
- [NAME], Heterodox Academy
- [NAME], Heterodox Academy member
- [NAME], [UNIVERSITY], Heterodox Academy
- [NAME], [POSITION] at [UNIVERSITY], Heterodox Academy member
- [NAME], [HXCOMMUNITY]
Or any variation of this nature. This would, again, implicate Heterodox Academy and other HxA members into a position which they may not, in fact, support.
Panels, Conferences, Initiatives, Edited Volumes
HxA encourages the formation of cross-collaboration, local initiatives, disciplinary initiatives, etc. We hope to help foster more of these via our HxCommunities forums. However, we do not have ‘groups’ or ‘chapters’ or any kind of sub-entity for which there are separate spokespeople, parallel organizational structures, etc. Constellations of members, be it across a particular discipline, or in a given geographical region or institution, or working on a particular issue, or in a particular professional capacity (e.g., high school teachers), should take care not describe themselves as HxA chapters, etc., or suggest they in any way speak on behalf of HxA or some HxA sub-entity, or other members.
Similarly, it will often be the case that initiatives, events or publications will be put together primarily or exclusively by Heterodox Academy members. This does not make them HxA initiatives, events, publications, etc. and they should not be described as such. These are your creations! Take the credit you deserve rather than ascribing it to us. But DO tell us about them. We love to celebrate or amplify members’ efforts as relevant, and to help provide models that other people can draw from. More broadly, we’re always eager for a deeper understanding of what our members are up to. Contact our Membership team (firstname.lastname@example.org) to keep us in the loop!
Because we hold a range of trademarks related to our name and our work, please reach out if you’d like to use the word “Heterodox” (or some derivative thereof) to describe a panel, event, collected volume, etc. that is inspired by our organization and its efforts. We will review your request and, if it seems broadly consistent with our organizational mission and values, we will grant a license to use the mark free of charge for a particular instance.
Critically, this would not amount to an endorsement by Heterodox Academy for the event or product itself, nor its organizers, nor its contents – it would merely indicate that we did not detect an obvious contradiction between that work and our own at the time the request was made. Hence, it would still be essential to ensure that the initiative, product or event was not described as, or implied to be, from Heterodox Academy, by HxA, approved by HxA, etc.
An example of someone doing this well:
There is an independently-organized and funded annual conference called “Heterodoxy in Psychology” – put together by HxA founding member Richard Redding and others. Many of our members, particularly those in psychology or adjacent fields, participate in the conference. However, Heterodox Academy played no role in organizing or sponsoring the event. Hence, it is explicitly emphasized on the event page that this is not an HxA event:
The Heterodoxy in Psychology Conference is an independent conference not organized or sponsored by Heterodox Academy or other entities. The content and views shared at this conference do not necessarily reflect the position or commitments of other organizations.
Here, we have listed some of the common ways that people have sought to express affiliation or solidarity with Heterodox Academy, and provided guidance as to if or how they should go about that. Three core considerations informed our approach:
First, it is a core principle of ours that people should speak for and as themselves rather than anonymously or via collectives – as described in greater detail on this page about the ‘HxA Way.’
Second, Heterodox Academy has thousands of members – faculty, administrators, and grad students. Our members are affiliated with different types of institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad. They hail from a range of demographic and ideological backgrounds. Consequently, on most issues there will be a lot of internal disagreement. Out of respect for this pluralism, cognizant of the fact that members may have different views on the issue in question, or may not wish to be associated with a given argument or approach – it is important for members avoid representing themselves as speaking or acting as an agent of HxA per se when staking out some kind of controversial view. We are a big tent, and in most cases should be able to accommodate you and those who disagree with you about a given issue (that’s kind of the point!). Hence, it is important not to push one’s own views and approaches as, in any way, representing those of HxA as an organization or as being emblematic of any other HxA members.
Finally, as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization we are forbidden from advocating for or against any ballot initiative, political party or politician, advocating for business interests of donors, etc — or allowing the impression of these things to happen (that is, we can be held responsible if it LOOKS like we are allowing these things). Those who claim affiliation with us, who are ostensibly acting as a member of Heterodox Academy, while engaging in activity which violates our charter (i.e. praising or criticizing any particular ballot initiative, politician, political party, business, etc.) — could jeopardize our 501c3 status.
This guidance is not intended to be exhaustive. If you have a question about a particular case, feel free to reach out to us (email@example.com) for more information.