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2021 Open Inquiry Awards

In order to address society’s most intractable problems, learners must weave together the best ideas from a range of perspectives. In their absence, important questions and ideas can go unexplored, key assumptions can go unchallenged, and tribalism can go unchecked, eroding the quality of research and teaching. To honor the institutions and individuals doing the complex work of improving classrooms, campuses, and scholarship, Heterodox Academy (HxA) seeks nominations for the 2021 Open Inquiry Awards.

This year, we are excited to open nominations to Friends of HxA. We invite U.S.-based HxA Members, Graduate Affiliates, Student Affiliates, and Friends to participate in the award nomination process by visiting and completing the submission form by June 4, 2021, 11:59 p.m. EST. Self-nominations are welcomed.  If you do not belong to one of these groups, we encourage you to learn about joining HxA here.

Award Categories


Individuals, groups, and institutions, where applicable, may be nominated in one of six award categories:

Institutional Excellence Award: For the college or university – or center or institute operating as part of a college or university – that has done the most to advance or sustain open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement either on its own campus or nationally.

Leadership Award: For the person who has most effectively championed the principles of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in the academy and beyond.

Courage Award: For the person who has demonstrated consistent courage in pursuing truth, and embodies bravery in championing the principles of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in the academy despite social and professional costs. 

Exceptional Scholarship Award: For the academic(s) who, through research or another form of scholarship, has best advanced knowledge of open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, or constructive disagreement.

Outstanding Student or Student Group Award: Given to an undergraduate or graduate student(s) or student group(s) who has made vital and durable contributions to open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement on their campus.

Teaching Award: For the educator(s) who has most effectively integrated open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, or constructive disagreement into the classroom and/or curriculum.

Nominators should provide a well-organized submission, with careful consideration to what is relevant and meaningful.  Please keep in mind that those evaluating the nominations may not be familiar with the individual, institution, or group that you have nominated. Be clear about why the nominee(s) deserves the award and in what ways they have achieved excellence. For a sense of fitting nominations, you can review past awards winners here.



Each nomination must meet basic eligibility criteria to be considered. Full eligibility criteria can be found here.

  • Nominator must be a Member, Affiliate, or Friend of HxA.
  • Nominator and nominee must be based in the U.S.
  • Nominee must not have received an Open Inquiry Award in the past.
  • Nominee must fit the Award criteria for the category in which they are nominated (i.e. must be an institution for Institutional Excellence Award; must be a student or student group for Outstanding Student or Student Group Award).


Evaluation Criteria


All submissions will be evaluated against the following criteria:

Support of HxA’s Mission: Does the nominee show evidence of work that relates to HxA’s mission of advancing open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement on college campuses?

Excellence: How is this nominee excellent as it relates to the award category? Be it visible in credentials, third-party recognition, press mentions, student evaluations, titles or promotions, or other empirically demonstrable impact, please clearly describe the nominee’s excellence in the award category. Supporting documentation such as articles, academic papers, or other materials relevant to the award category are strongly encouraged and aid evaluation.

Completeness: Is the nomination form complete, fully answering the question prompts?  Incomplete or partial nominations hinder reviewers’ ability to understand why the nominee deserves the award. Please provide specific, compelling, and concise answers on the nomination form.


Awards Process


Members of HxA’s Open Inquiry Awards Committee will independently review the full slate of nominations for each award. They will meet to develop a short list of three to five nominations per awards category based on the above Evaluation Criteria. The Awards Committee may also decide not to short-list any nominees in an award category. The short lists will be presented to HxA’s management team, the Awards Committee, the HxA Advisory Council, and the HxA Board of Directors, all of whom will review the short-listed nominations, and then vote to select the winner(s) for each award.

Those voting will also evaluate nominees based on the above Evaluation Criteria. The nominee from the short list who receives the greatest number of votes will be the awardee from that category. The winners will be announced in fall 2021.

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