The Colloquia Way

We believe that solving the many challenging problems present in society today requires a commitment to inclusive diversity, building on demographic diversity to promote diversified and inclusive ideas, viewpoints, and beliefs, by respecting the dignity of every individual. It requires us to transcend our ideological camps and build bridges across the divide, engage in critical thinking and active listening, and avoid labeling the other. We at Colloquia believe that Academic Freedom on campus must be interpreted broadly regardless of potential offense. We also believe that effective engagement requires a commitment on the part of the individual to work constructively across disagreement.
In order to achieve this, we adhere to a set of norms and values which we have in part borrowed from Heterodox Academy, and which we refer to as the Colloquia Way, and which we encourage individuals to adopt in their own scholarship, pedagogy, and academic interactions.

1. Be curious

Curiosity is what drives us. It means wondering about possibilities, which in turn means that every point of view matters, including unpopular points of view. It means looking behind the curtain of what is seemingly obvious or taken for granted, challenging the status quo, being open to other ideas - perhaps especially those we intuitively disagree with -, and considering the possibility that others can help us move forward with our understanding. Being curious requires active listening. It is curiosity that pushes us to acquire knowledge and to seek the truth.

2. Search for evidence

As academics and university students, we should always seek the truth. This can only be done if we are able to consider all forms of evidence and of knowledge, and if we critically assess that evidence and that knowledge. We also need to be clear as to what is evidence and what is mere opinion or what is driven by our emotions.   

3. Be generous

It is by comparing our ideas to those of others that we improve our thinking. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes in that process. Others might at times use the wrong words or address ideas that we dislike or that might even trouble us. Being generous means starting from an assumption that people are approaching the discussion in good faith even if we think they are wrong. It also means being forgiving. It means being compassionate and taking the time to explain our point of view, based on facts, not our emotions.

3. Be humble

Why not begin by assuming that we may be wrong, or at the very least that others may know a thing or two we may not know? To move forward in our understanding of the world, we cannot take the high moral ground or assume we are more virtuous than others. Research suggests that one of the better ways of getting someone to consider another point of view is to have them poke holes in their own theory. Perhaps before we are critical of someone else’s point of view we should start by being truly critical of our own point of view.

4. Be constructive

Discussion and debate in academia do not aim to identify a winner and a loser. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of a given topic. This simply cannot be achieved by denigrating, avoiding, strawmanning or demonizing those we disagree with. Being constructive brings about improvement and growth.

5. Be yourself

No one should be ashamed of sharing their point of view or of expressing their ideas. We need to have the same compassion for ourselves as we do for others. Improving our thinking is a complex and arduous endeavor; we will all make mistakes along the way. Being yourself also means forgiving yourself for those mistakes.



These general principles guide our work. Please note that depending on the type of event (Colloquia Symposia series, Colloquia conferences, or Colloquia Debates), there may also be specific rules that apply. See our events page for more information.