colleges

How Heterodox Is Your University?

New ratings reveal the good, the bad and the ugly about the intellectual diversity on 150 leading campuses.

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The folks over at the Heterodox Academy 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 goal of the Heterodox Academy group is to find "ways of improving the academy by enhancing viewpoint diversity and the conditions that encourage free inquiry." The founding academicians of the Heterodox Academy all endorse this 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."

The group has just published its new Heterodox Academy Guide to Colleges that rates America's top 150 universities (as listed by US News and World Report) ranking them according to their commitment to viewpoint diversity. The rankings are based on four sources including whether they've endorsed the University of Chicago Principles on Free Expression; the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education rating; Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Choosing the Right College Guide; and reports since 2014 of relevant events that suggest support or lack of support for free inquiry on the rated campuses. They assign each of the four criteria a value between 0 to 1, add them up, and then multiply the result by 25 to create a "Heterodoxy Score" for each school that ranges from 0 to 100.

A few highlights are University of Chicago which achieves the highest score (most open to viewpoint diversity) at 93.75 followed by Purdue University at 87.5 points. The lowest scores at 0 points are achieved by University fo Missouri at Columbia and University of Oregon at Eugene. Next tier of intellectually conformists schools with scores of 6.25 is occupied by Rutgers University, Northwestern University, New York University, Harvard University, and Brown University.

I am somewhat happy to report that my alma mater, the University of Virginia is in the tier just below Chicago and Purdue with a score of 62.5 points. Speak up more Wahoos!

I will a bit self-indulgently note that the initiation oath of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society (founded July 14, 1825) of which I was a proud member reads:

I, ________, a student at the University of Virginia, holding it to be true that opinions springing out of solitary observation and reflection are seldom, in first instance, correct; that the faculties of the mind are excited by collision; that friendships are cemented, errors corrected, and sound principles established by society and intercourse, and especially in a country where all are free to profess and, by argument, maintain their opinions; that the powers of debate should be sedulously cultivated–therefore associate myself with the Jefferson Society at the University of Virginia.

Correct.