Books By Our Panelists

Check out the latest books by

Ilana Redstone, Erec Smith, and Jonathan Zimmerman

Ilana Redstone

In Unassailable Ideas, Ilana Redstone and John Villasenor examine the dominant belief system on American campuses, its uncompromising enforcement through social media, and the consequences for higher education. They argue that two trends in particular—the emergent role of social media in limiting academic research and knowledge discovery and a campus culture increasingly intolerant to diverse views and open inquiry—are fundamentally reshaping higher education.

Redstone and Villasenor further identify and explain how three well-intentioned unwritten rules regarding identity define the current campus climate. They present myriad case studies illustrating the resulting impact on education, knowledge creation-and, increasingly the world beyond campus. They also provide a set of recommendations to build a new campus climate that would be more tolerant toward diverse perspectives and open inquiry.

An insightful analysis of the current state of academia, Unassailable Ideas highlights an environment in higher education that forecloses entire lines of research, entire discussions, and entire ways of conducting classroom teaching.

Erec Smith

A Critique of Anti-racism in Rhetoric and Composition: The Semblance of Empowerment critiques current antiracist ideology in rhetoric and composition, arguing that it inadvertently promotes a deficit-model of empowerment for both students and scholars.

Erec Smith claims that empowerment theory—which promotes individual, communal, and strategic efficacy—is missing from most antiracist initiatives, which instead often abide by what Smith refers to as a primacy of identity”: an over-reliance on identity, particularly a victimized identity, to establish ethos.

Scholars of rhetoric, composition, communication, and critical race theory will find this book particularly useful.

Jonathan Zimmerman

In America we like to think we live in a land of liberty, where everyone can say whatever they want. Throughout our history, however, we have also been quick to censor people who offend or frighten us. We talk a good game about freedom of speech, then we turn around and deny it to others.

In this brief but bracing book, historian Jonathan Zimmerman and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Signe Wilkinson tell the story of free speech in America: who established it, who has denounced it, and who has risen to its defense. They also make the case for why we should care about it today, when free speech is once again under attack.

Across the political spectrum, Americans have demanded the suppression of ideas and images that allegedly threaten our nation. But the biggest danger to America comes not from speech but from censorship, which prevents us from freely governing ourselves. Free speech allows us to criticize our leaders. It lets us consume the art, film, and literature we prefer. And, perhaps most importantly, it allows minorities to challenge the oppression they suffer. While any of us are censored, none of us are free.

Recommended Books

Our panelists’ favorite books on the topic of viewpoint diversity.

Kindly Inquisitors

Recommended by Jonathan Zimmerman

“A liberal society stands on the proposition that we should all take seriously the idea that we might be wrong. This means we must place no one, including ourselves, beyond the reach of criticism; it means that we must allow people to err, even where the error offends and upsets, as it often will.” So writes Jonathan Rauch in Kindly Inquisitors, which has challenged readers for more than twenty years with its bracing and provocative exploration of the issues surrounding attempts to limit free speech. In it, Rauch makes a persuasive argument for the value of “liberal science” and the idea that conflicting views produce knowledge within society.

A Conflict Of Visions

Recommended by Ilana Redstone

Controversies in politics arise from many sources, but the conflicts that endure for generations or centuries show a remarkably consistent pattern. In this classic work, Thomas Sowell analyzes this pattern. He describes the two competing visions that shape our debates about the nature of reason, justice, equality, and power: the "constrained" vision, which sees human nature as unchanging and selfish, and the "unconstrained" vision, in which human nature is malleable and perfectible. A Conflict of Visions offers a convincing case that ethical and policy disputes circle around the disparity between both outlooks.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Recommended by Samantha Hedges

When Alice follows the White Rabbit down his rabbit hole she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. As she travels through Wonderland Alice learns that in the magical land of the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts, nothing is as it first appears.

Don’t Label Me

Recommended by Jessica Minick

In these United States, discord has hit emergency levels. Civility isn't the reason to repair our caustic chasms. Diversity is.

Don't Label Me shows that America's founding genius is diversity of thought. Which is why social justice activists won't win by labeling those who disagree with them. At a time when minorities are fast becoming the majority, a truly new America requires a new way to tribe out.

The Righteous Mind

Recommended by Erin McLaughlin

Drawing on his twenty-five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you’re ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

On Dialogue

Recommended by Ora Itkin

Never before has there been a greater need for deeper listening and more open communication to cope with the complex problems facing our organizations, businesses and societies. Renowned scientist David Bohm believed there was a better way for humanity to discover meaning and to achieve harmony. He identified creative dialogue, a sharing of assumptions and understanding, as a means by which the individual, and society as a whole, can learn more about themselves and others, and achieve a renewed sense of purpose.

“Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a field, I will meet you there."


“Growing Diversity of Thought in K-12 Education: Current Challenges and the Path Ahead” is supported in full by Heterodox Academy, other than for Session 3 of the event titled “Educational Liberty Alliance Debate,” which is supported by Educational Liberty Alliance. The ability for HxA to provide Grants for HxCommunities events and other activities are made possible in full through the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

The opinions expressed at these events (or through such activities) are those of the individual grantees, organizers, speakers, presenters, other sponsors and attendees of such events/activities and do not necessarily reflect the views of Heterodox Academy and/or the John Templeton Foundation.

© 2021 K-12 Diversity of Thought

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