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Tools & Resources

Guides & How-To's

Increasing Open Inquiry, Viewpoint Diversity, and Constructive Disagreement on College and University Campuses: A Toolkit

Shelly Zhou, Ph.D.

This toolkit is a collection of two empirically validated interventions for use on college and university campuses that contribute to a climate of free expression on those campuses. These interventions evidently increase empathy and perspective-taking, intellectual humility, and open-minded cognition among the students who make up a campus community, individual-level changes that relate to an overall culture of free expression on campus. Including the instructions, recommendations, and stimulus materials for each of these interventions, this toolkit will help campus stakeholders implement these interventions on their own campuses.

These interventions came out of a grant by Heterodox Academy (HxA), which funded research to identify interventions that evidently increase empathy and perspective-taking, increase intellectual humility, increase open-minded cognition, increase curiosity, and decrease self-censorship among college students. Each proposal to this grant identified an intervention that arguably has any one or combination of these effects and it proposed one or two studies that determine if said effect or combination of effects is empirically valid. These studies had to take place at U.S. colleges or universities, on samples of undergraduate students, and during the 2021–2022 academic year. HxA funded five of these research projects at $30,000 each. More details about this grant are available in this request for proposals.

This grant funded the last subseries of research projects in a three-project research series that HxA is undertaking to identify ways of improving campus expression climate.

1. The first project created a survey that measures campus expression climate, the Campus Expression Survey, which HxA has administered annually since 2019 to monitor campus expression climate among undergraduate students.
2. The second project identified individual student changes that theoretically relate to a climate of free expression on campus; selected measures of these individual characteristics; and then empirically validated the relationship between these individual characteristics, according to corresponding measures, and campus expression climate. These individual characteristics and their corresponding measures are: (a) empathy and perspective-taking, according to the Empathic Concern and Perspective-Taking Subscales of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis 1980, 1983); (b) intellectual humility, according to the Intellectual Humility Scale (Leary et al. 2017); (c) open-minded cognition, according to the General Open-Minded Cognition Subscale of the Open-Minded Cognition Scale (Price et al. 2015); (d) curiosity, according to the Joyous Exploration, Deprivation Sensitivity, and Stress Tolerance Subscales of the Five-Dimensional Curiosity Scale Revised (Kashdan et al. 2020); and (e) self-censorship, according to the Willingness to Self-Censor Scale (Hayes et al. 2005).
3. This grant, which is the third project in this series, funded five research projects to identify interventions that decrease self-censorship and increase empathy and perspective-taking, intellectual humility, open-minded cognition, and curiosity, according to corresponding measures of these individual characteristics above.

You can download the individual research reports below:


This research grant was made possible in whole through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation. 

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We are compiling a compendium of initiatives, policies, programs, and other innovations that have been deployed in classrooms, on campuses, and in disciplines to support open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement. We want to hear practical strategies, tools, and resources that have worked for you, and that others can readily adapt and implement in their own institutions. These can range from entire courses to syllabi, reading lists, and research. Learn more & contribute.

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