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Heterodox Academy’s Writers Group Members

The Writers Group is a team of individuals associated with higher ed or K-12 education who are interested in writing about viewpoint diversity, open inquiry, and constructive disagreement. The Writers Group is led by HxA Faculty Fellow Ilana Redstone and meets as a team every week. For more information, including how to join the Writers Group, click here

  • Headshot of Ilana Redstone

    Ilana Redstone

    Faculty Fellow, joined November 2018

    “I am concerned about the way we teach, think, and talk about sensitive and controversial topics that touch identity and inequality. The boundaries on our public discourse have narrowed to the point that, when it comes to our most complicated social problems, we are often pressured to act as though the causes were simple and obvious. For this and other reasons, I share the HxA mission.”

    Ilana Redstone is an Associate Professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has a joint Ph.D. in demography and sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Ilana is the founder of Diverse Perspectives Consulting, the co-author of “Unassailable Ideas: How Unwritten Rules and Social Media Shape Discourse in American Higher Education,” a Faculty Fellow at Heterodox Academy, and the creator of the “Beyond Bigots and Snowflakes” video series, based on her course by the same name.

  • Larry Amsel

    Writing Fellow, joined July 2021

    “I had the good fortune of being an undergraduate at the City College of New York and at Columbia in the student activism era of the 1960-70s. The vigorous debate across a really wide diversity of opinion, during that time, was my intoxicating introduction to vigorous intellectual debate and was addictive. I have a watched that debate deteriorate in the American Academy, with sadness and fear. Sadness, because students were being deprived of a genuine intellectual debate among respectful adversaries with diverse opinions. Fear because of what this lost intellectual training will mean for our democracy and our world. Fortunately, in the Writers Group of Heterodox Academy I have re-found that intellectual spirit, it is a homecoming for which I will forever be grateful.”

    Lawrence Amsel an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. His research has focused on four areas. The applications of Game Theory and Behavioral Economics to the understanding of psychiatric phenomena such as suicide, OCD, PTSD, depression and pathologic grief. Second, understanding the long-term effects of mass trauma on children and families, including child survivors of 9/11. He recently edited a book entitled, An International Perspective on Disasters and Children’s Mental Health. Third, is research on suicide prevention based on biological, behavioral, social, and decisional determinants of suicidal behaviors. Fourth, is the application of psychiatry to legal and social issues.

  • Headshot of Patrick Casey

    Patrick Casey

    Writing Fellow, joined September 2020

    “Philosophy involves examining our own beliefs and trying to discern what is true with the ultimate purpose of learning how to live well. Viewpoint diversity is integral to this process because it is often only when we engage with sincere, intelligent, and moral individuals who happen to think very differently than we do that we become aware of and willing to question our own assumptions.”

    Patrick J. Casey earned his PhD in Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Holy Family University. His research interests include philosophy of religion, philosophical hermeneutics, and political philosophy.

  • Colleen Eren

    Writing Fellow, joined April 2021

    “As I grew up in a Muslim/Christian and interethnic household, the “heterodox” idea of respect for, and appreciation for different worldviews while honoring the inherent dignity of our common humanity, is not only familiar but deeply personal.  Looking at the history of thought and science, we see that without exposure to a diversity of thought, there is only religiosity of thought, which produces not only stagnation, repression, the stifling of curiosity and innovation, but can lead to the creation of “others” whose perspectives are dismissed, and thus to dehumanization.”

    Colleen Eren, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at William Paterson University. Her research focuses on white-collar crime, social movements on criminal justice issues, and criminal justice education. Her book, Bernie Madoff and the Crisis: The Public Trial of Capitalism, examined how the Ponzi scheme became a vehicle through which the public discussed the financial crisis of 2008. She has been featured in several documentaries about the Madoff case and has been published in the New York Times on the subject of compassionate release. She is writing a new book, Reform-Nation: The Movement to End Over-Incarceration for Stanford University Press. She also is co-author of the textbook, The Impact of Supreme Court Decisions on U.S. Institutions: A Sociology of Law Primer.

  • Headshot of Andrew Glover

    Andrew Glover

    Writing Fellow, joined September 2020

    “I value the mission of Heterodox Academy because I believe that no single ideology or political persuasion has a monopoly on truth. Academics are humans too, with all the biases and vulnerabilities that every human has. We need colleagues and students with diverse viewpoints to create a vibrant, productive culture of inquiry.”

    Andrew Glover is a Research Fellow at RMIT University, Australia. His academic work focuses on the social aspects of energy, sustainability, mobility, and remote work. He has written for Quillette, The Australian, and Areo Magazine.

  • Headshot of Christian Gonzalez

    Christian Gonzalez

    Writing Fellow, joined August 2018

    “I support Heterodox Academy’s mission for many reasons, the most important one being that viewpoint diversity strengthens the quality of research and teaching. I also lament the fact that the academy so badly neglects conservative thought. The right has a very rich intellectual tradition, and I think it should be engaged with more closely and fairly.”

    Christian is a PhD student in political theory at Georgetown University. His research focuses on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Christian is interested in the French and American revolutions, the rise of abolitionism, the expansion of the suffrage, and the birth of modern ideologies such as conservatism, liberalism, and socialism. He also writes for popular outlets, including Heterodox Academy’s blog. Christian is originally from Caracas, Venezuela, but he was raised in Miami.

  • Rachel Hartman

    Writing Fellow, joined April 2021

    “The pursuit of knowledge and truth can only succeed if diverse viewpoints are expressed, but there is mounting pressure for academics to conform to a mainstream ideology that is hostile to heterodox views. I believe that welcoming and engaging with heterodox views is essential to the health of higher education, scholarly inquiry, creativity, and innovative thought. This is especially important the more homogenous academia becomes in terms of the range of ideologies represented within its disciplines.”

    Rachel Hartman is a PhD student in social psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses morality, political polarization, and the differences (and similarities!) between people with different political identities and beliefs. Rachel has written for Harvard Business Review and The Pipettepen.

  • Headshot of Andrew Hartz

    Andrew Hartz

    Writing Fellow, joined September 2020

    “An Islamic mystic said that it’s a great sin to divide people up into groups and say only good things about some and only bad things about others. This process separates us from each other and disrupts the love that people naturally feel toward each other. It can take peaceful unified societies, and turn them into ones filled with chaos, ignorance, hatred, and division. This is a powerful teaching. Hopefully, by confronting splitting, we can overcome this dynamic and make the world a more just and enlightened place.”

    Andrew Hartz, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Long Island University—Brooklyn, where he teaches psychodynamic theory, cross-cultural spirituality, and viewpoint diversity and their impact on psychotherapy. His work at Heterodox Academy has focused on “splitting,” the process of framing ideas, individuals, and groups of people in all-or-nothing terms. He’s also a psychologist in private practice in New York City.

  • Christina LaRose

    Writing Fellow, joined April 2021

    “I strongly support Heterodox Academy’s mission because I believe that understanding the complexities of the human condition, and our world, requires curiosity, intellectual humility, and open-mindedness. To improve society, it is necessary to honestly discuss the nature of our collective problems by engaging with a variety of perspectives. It is also important to assess proposed solutions and make changes when evidence suggests that an approach is ineffective. I believe that we all share a universal humanity that unites us, transcending our gender, ethnicity, nationality, and other characteristics. I seek to promote freedom of thought, reason, and artistic expression.”

    Christina LaRose has a PhD in English Literature and Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan. Her writing has appeared in Live Science, Humanity & Society, Third Coast literary magazine, and HAWWA: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World, among other publications. She received the University of Michigan English Department’s Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award (2014) and has also taught writing at Purdue University Northwest and Ohio State University. Currently, she is a researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she designs curricula that improve viewpoint diversity, intellectual humility, and critical thinking.

  • Justin McBrayer

    Writing Fellow, joined May 2021

    “Education won’t happen in an echo chamber.”

    Justin McBrayer is a Professor of Philosophy at Fort Lewis College.  His expertise is in epistemology and ethics.  His most recent book, Beyond Fake News, provides an interdisciplinary explanation for the fake news crisis that has rocked political institutions across the Western world.

  • Martha McCaughey

    Writing Fellow, joined June 2021

    “As a sociologist of gender and technology, my work addresses controversial issues. Our academic conversations on these topics must occur without government, corporate, religious, or activist interference. Our educational institutions can only be trustworthy, credible sources of information if we are committed to studying, teaching, and debating issues in all their complexity.”

    Martha McCaughey has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California – Santa Barbara. The author and editor of multiple books and articles on gender, violence, and technology, including Real Knockouts and Cyberactivism on the Participatory Web, her writing has also appeared in Academe, Ms., and The Society Pages. Throughout her 13 years directing high-profile university programs, she embraced heterodox views and academic freedom with creativity and courage.  Currently, she is a professor in sociology at Appalachian State University and research faculty in sociology at the University of Wyoming. She also consults with academic programs on strategic communications and program development.

  • Alex Small

    Writing Fellow, joined April 2021

    “Teaching means helping people, in all their complexity, to understand ideas that took centuries of investigation and debate to develop. Many academics want to believe that there are straightforward ways to get better educational outcomes, provided that everyone just believes the right things. I think teaching is much harder than that, and that every field, regardless of its focus, needs more diversity of thought about the human condition.”

    Alex Small is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His research focuses on the application of optics to biology, as well as computational and statistical physics. He has published extensively with undergraduate student co-authors, and teaches at all levels of the physics curriculum. He has been heavily involved in helping undergraduate students connect with industry professionals to better prepare for their careers after college.

  • Blake Smith

    Writing Fellow, joined April 2021

    “Both academic and public intellectual life thrive when people can exchange, and therefore enlarge, their perspectives in vigorous, respectful discussion. Ensuring that a diversity of views is present at universities and in media is thus not so much about protecting, or providing ‘representation’ for, a minority opinion held by some group, as it is about allowing each of us access to the sort of enlivening conversation we need to be awakened into thinking.”

    Blake Smith is a Harper Schmidt Fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Chicago. A historian of modern France, and literary translator of contemporary francophone fiction, Blake is also a regular contributor to Tablet magazine.

  • Headshot of Erec Smith

    Erec Smith

    Writing Fellow, joined September 2020

    “I became dedicated to viewpoint diversity when I saw my field of rhetoric and composition devolving into a bastion of dogmatic ideologues intolerant of opposing views, dialogue, and critical inquiry. When I, a black man, was labeled a white supremacist for pointing out the divisive and nonsensical nature of anti-racist pedagogy in my field, I realized that I had to do whatever I could to fight this new orthodoxy of intolerance and group-think.”

    Erec Smith is an Associate Professor of Rhetoric at York College of Pennsylvania. Although he has eclectic scholarly interests, Smith’s primary focuses on the rhetorics of anti-racist activism, theory, and pedagogy. In his latest book, A Critique of Anti-racism in Rhetoric and Composition: The Semblance of Empowerment, Smith addresses the detriments of anti-racist rhetoric and writing pedagogy based on identity and prefigurative politics and suggests that a more empowering form anti-racism be considered.

  • Headshot of Oliver Traldi

    Oliver Traldi

    Writing Fellow, joined September 2020

    “I care about the Heterodox mission because it is ultimately the mission of the life of the mind: to scrutinize all of our beliefs, internally and in conversation with others, and to assess whether our confidence in them is really justified – and in so doing, to respond to intellectual fashions with independent and critical thought.”

    Oliver Traldi is a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Most of his research is in epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerned with beliefs and reasons to hold them. He has studied topics like the value of knowledge, the rational response to disagreement, which beliefs are justified and which aren’t, the nature of expertise, and the question of whether some beliefs are unethical to hold. He is currently working on a textbook on the epistemology of political beliefs. His public writing has appeared in outlets like American Affairs, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Commentary, the Hedgehog Review, Quillette, and Tablet, and he is a regular contributor for ArcDigital.

Interested in joining Heterodox Academy’s Writers Group? Click here for more information.

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