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If the seemingly never ending stream of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and protests over – well pretty much everything – coming out of America’s college campuses has you feeling a bit down on the future of academia then take heart! An intellectual think-tank is taking on what they call a lack of ‘viewpoint diversity.’
Heterodox Academy describes itself as “a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities.”
Their mission is to “increase viewpoint diversity in the academy, with a special focus on the social sciences.”
Okay enough gushing…for now anyway.
The academy caught my eye by way of reason.com. They have “devised and published a rating of the intellectual diversity and free speech friendliness of 150 of America’s more prominent universities and colleges.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) employs a similar ranking system with regard to free speech and expression on campus. Heterodox’s aim appears to be less socially driven and more academically geared, but they do include FIRE’s assessments when making their own rankings.
Founding members of the academy all endorse the following statement:
“I believe that university life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other. I am concerned that many academic fields and universities currently lack sufficient viewpoint diversity—particularly political diversity. I will support viewpoint diversity in my academic field, my university, my department, and my classroom.”
That is an important, and perhaps dangerous viewpoint given the campus climate of 2016. when the mere act of disagreeing could – by the right special snowflake sociopath – potentially be referred to as an act of violence.
The academy ranked America’s top 150 universities, and the Top 50 liberal arts schools (per U.S. News And World Reports) on their commitment to viewpoint diversity.
My Alma mater didn’t make the liberal arts list, but several in our athletic conference did and the results were less than encouraging with Dickinson, Gettysburg, and Franklin and Marshall all landing in the negative category (based primarily on their FIRE ranking).
So maybe the Centennial Conference isn’t the bastion of free academic thought that its member schools claim to be. I doubt I’ll be getting my tuition dollars back anytime soon.
In any case if you or someone you know is looking for an environment in which to stretch their intellectual legs without fear of being tarred and feathered in the student union (not literally, but we’re kinda going down that road) then the University of Chicago and Purdue University are great bets – they scored a 93.75 and 87.5 respectively.
On the other hand if you enjoy seeing all but the most Orwellian academic ambitions smothered like a plate of Waffle House hash browns then check out Rutgers (come on New Jersey, really!?! I thought we were better than that) Northwestern, NYU, Harvard, or Brown – all of which claim space near the bottom of the barrel with scores of 6.25.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the blog section over at Heterodox Academy and will provide updates as the 2016-2017 academic year rolls on.
This contributor is a Marine veteran that has served in the Middle East. Due to the sensitive nature of his current job, he has requested to remain anonymous.