Heterodox Academy

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Formation2015; 4 years ago (2015)
FounderNicholas Quinn Rosenkranz and Jonathan Haidt
  • New York
2,651 academics[1]
Executive Director
Debra Mashek[2][3][4]

Heterodox Academy is a non-profit advocacy group of professors to counteract what they see as narrowing of political viewpoints on college campuses.[5][6][7][8] Their membership includes professors, graduate students, postdoctoral students, and academic administrators.


In 2011, while giving a talk at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Haidt asked the 1000-person audience to raise their hands to show their political alignment, and estimated that, while 80% signified they were liberals, only three identified as conservative. He observed that, in similar situations, such a disparity is usually attributed to discrimination or a hostile climate.[9] Although Haidt's talk was widely-discussed among his colleagues,[10] he took a particular interest in a post by José Duarte, then a grad student at Arizona State University, describing how he had been denied a place at another PhD program due to his political views.[11] The two decided to collaborate on a research study of political diversity within their field, along with other interested colleagues Jarret T. Crawford, Charlotta Stern, Lee Jussim, and Philip E. Tetlock. Their paper, "Political diversity will improve social psychological science", was published in the January 2015 edition of Behavioral and Brain Sciences[12]

Around the time of the paper's release, Haidt was contacted by Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, a Georgetown University law professor, who shared a talk he'd given to an association of legal scholars called the Federalist Society in which Rosenkranz had discussed a similar disparity in intellectual diversity within his field. The two met in New York and decided to start an association of faculty which would support political diversity. It was Rosenkranz that suggested the name "Heterodox Academy". They invited Haidt's co-authors from the research study, as well as Chris Martin from Emory University, who had also published an article on the subject. Initial funding for the group came from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation and The Achelis and Bodman Foundation.[13][14]

The Heterodox Academy website was launched with 25 members in September 2015. In the wake of campus freedom of speech controversies such as those surrounding Erika Christakis at Yale and the 2015–16 University of Missouri protests, the membership grew and the website became "a clearinghouse for data and views on academic bias, scientific integrity, and the latest campus free-speech flaps."[13]

In June 2018, Heterodox Academy held an inaugural Open Mind Conference in New York City, featuring several academic guests recently involved in campus free speech or viewpoint diversity issues, like Robert Zimmer, Lucía Martínez Valdivia, Allison Stanger, Alice Dreger, and Heather Heying.[15][16][3]


Membership was initially open to tenured and pre-tenure professors, but has been expanded to adjunct professors, graduate students, and postdoctorals. The group has a selective membership application process, which has led to the rejection of a few undesirable applicants. They also actively recruit to address imbalances toward any particular political ideology. In July 2017, the group had 800 members from across the political spectrum and located throughout the USA and internationally.[13][17] The smallest number of members are those that consider themselves conservative/right; most are moderates/centrists, liberals, or progressives.[18][better source needed]

By February 2018, over 1500 college professors had joined Heterodox Academy, along with a couple hundred graduate students.[2] As of February 2019, the organization reported that it had over 2,600 academic members and over 350 graduate affiliates.[1]

Notable members of the Heterodox Academy include:

Ideology and goals[edit]

Heterodox Academy's goal is to broaden the diversity of opinions on college and university campuses.[17] The group's website describes its outlook and its rationale for their mission as follows: "When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged."[4]

To directly engage students, the Heterodox Academy created a "Viewpoint Diversity Experience" designed "to prepare students for democratic citizenship and success in the political diverse workplaces they will soon inhabit."[19]

The group produces the Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges – a college ranking guide in which 150 prominent universities and colleges are rated on their level of support of ideological diversity and free speech based on each school's internal regulations, incidents of censorship, and the ratings of other First Amendment-supporting groups.[17][20]

Heterodox Academy does not formally define itself as conservative or centrist, describing itself as bipartisan.[4][5] Vox has described them as advancing an argument that political correctness was a major problem on college campuses; Heterodox Academy objected to that characterization and accused the piece making it of bias.[6]

Nonetheless, Heterodox Academy has been identified as advancing conservative viewpoints on college campuses by playing into or presenting the argument that such views are suppressed by left-wing bias.[5][6][21][22] Many commentators, including The New York Observer's Davis Richardson; Vox's Zack Beauchamp; and Chris Quintana, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, have disputed Heterodox Academy's assumption that college campuses are facing a "free-speech crisis", noting the lack of data to support it and arguing that advocacy groups such as Heterodox Academy functionally do more to narrow the scope of academic debates than any of the biases they allege.[5][6][7] Its focus on what it sees as a "campus free speech crisis" has been condemned as a moral panic by some commentators.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Members". Heterodox Academy. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Friedersdorf, Conor (February 6, 2018). "A New Leader in the Push for Diversity of Thought on Campus". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Emily Esfahani (June 17, 2018). "A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on June 18, 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Lerner, Maura (April 24, 2018). "Nurturing a new diversity on campus: 'Diversity of thought'". Star Tribune. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Richardson, Davis (4 June 2018). "Is a Red Pill Tidal Wave Brewing in Academia?". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  6. ^ a b c d Beauchamp, Zack (31 August 2018). "The myth of a campus free speech crisis". Vox. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  7. ^ a b Quintana, Chris (30 April 2018). "The Real Free-Speech Crisis Is Professors Being Disciplined for Liberal Views, a Scholar Finds". The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Retrieved 2019-02-28 – via The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  8. ^ "Nurturing a new diversity on campus: 'Diversity of thought'". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2019-07-20.
  9. ^ Tierney, John (February 7, 2011). "Social Scientist Sees Bias Within". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 9, 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  10. ^ Inbar, Yoel; Lammers, Joris (2012). "Political Diversity in Social and Personality Psychology". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 7 (5): 496–503. doi:10.1177/1745691612448792. ISSN 1745-6916.
  11. ^ Konnikova, Maria (2014-10-30). "Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans?". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  12. ^ Duarte, José L.; Crawford, Jarret T.; Stern, Charlotta; Haidt, Jonathan; Jussim, Lee; Tetlock, Philip E. (July 18, 2014). "Political diversity will improve social psychological science". Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Cambridge University Press (published 2015). 38 (e130): e130. doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000430. PMID 25036715.
  13. ^ a b c d e Goldstein, Evan R. (June 11, 2017). "The Gadfly: Can Jonathan Haidt Calm the Culture Wars?". The Chronicle Review. The Chronicle of Higher Education (published July 7, 2017). 63 (40): B6–9. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Variety and Heterodox Academy: The Chris Martin Interview". TheBestSchools.org. August 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Rubenstein, Adam (June 22, 2018). "Heterodoxy Now". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  16. ^ Bartlett, Tom (June 21, 2018). "A Conference's Recipe for 'Viewpoint Diversity': More Free Play, More John Stuart Mill". The Chronicle of Higher Education. New York. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d e Belkin, Douglas (June 24, 2017). "Colleges Pledge Tolerance for Diverse Opinions, But Skeptics Remain". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on June 27, 2017. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  18. ^ Weiss, Bari (April 14, 2017). "Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on July 25, 2017. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  19. ^ Roth, Michael S. (May 11, 2017). "The Opening of the Liberal Mind". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on May 11, 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  20. ^ Richardson, Bradford (October 24, 2016). "Harvard among least intellectually diverse universities: Report". The Washington Times. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  21. ^ Fuentes, Agustín; Rouse, Carolyn (1 September 2016). "New Articulations of Biological Difference in the 21st Century: A Conversation". Anthropology Now. 8 (3): 14–25. doi:10.1080/19428200.2016.1242907. ISSN 1942-8200.
  22. ^ Matthews, Dylan (19 November 2018). "The Journal of Controversial Ideas is already, well, controversial. Here's a founder's defense". Vox. Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  23. ^ Liu, Jasmine (29 January 2019). "Building a new framework for Cardinal Conversations". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  24. ^ Sachs, Jeffrey Adam (1 May 2018). "There is no campus free speech crisis: The right's new moral panic is largely imaginary". Salon (reprint). Retrieved 2019-02-28.

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