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Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education

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How the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can coexist on campus.Safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions, the disinvitation of speakers, demands to rename campus landmarks--debate over these issues began in lecture halls and on college quads but ended up on op-ed pages in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on cable news, and o How the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can coexist on campus.Safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions, the disinvitation of speakers, demands to rename campus landmarks--debate over these issues began in lecture halls and on college quads but ended up on op-ed pages in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on cable news, and on social media. Some of these critiques had merit, but others took a series of cheap shots at "crybullies" who needed to be coddled and protected from the real world. Few questioned the assumption that colleges must choose between free expression and diversity. In Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces, John Palfrey argues that the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can, and should, coexist on campus. Palfrey, currently Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover, and formerly Professor and Vice Dean at Harvard Law School, writes that free expression and diversity are more compatible than opposed. Free expression can serve everyone--even if it has at times been dominated by white, male, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied citizens. Diversity is about self-expression, learning from one another, and working together across differences; it can encompass academic freedom without condoning hate speech. Palfrey proposes an innovative way to support both diversity and free expression on campus: creating safe spaces and brave spaces. In safe spaces, students can explore ideas and express themselves with without feeling marginalized. In brave spaces--classrooms, lecture halls, public forums--the search for knowledge is paramount, even if some discussions may make certain students uncomfortable. The strength of our democracy, says Palfrey, depends on a commitment to upholding both diversity and free expression, especially when it is hardest to do so.


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How the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can coexist on campus.Safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions, the disinvitation of speakers, demands to rename campus landmarks--debate over these issues began in lecture halls and on college quads but ended up on op-ed pages in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on cable news, and o How the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can coexist on campus.Safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions, the disinvitation of speakers, demands to rename campus landmarks--debate over these issues began in lecture halls and on college quads but ended up on op-ed pages in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, on cable news, and on social media. Some of these critiques had merit, but others took a series of cheap shots at "crybullies" who needed to be coddled and protected from the real world. Few questioned the assumption that colleges must choose between free expression and diversity. In Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces, John Palfrey argues that the essential democratic values of diversity and free expression can, and should, coexist on campus. Palfrey, currently Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover, and formerly Professor and Vice Dean at Harvard Law School, writes that free expression and diversity are more compatible than opposed. Free expression can serve everyone--even if it has at times been dominated by white, male, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied citizens. Diversity is about self-expression, learning from one another, and working together across differences; it can encompass academic freedom without condoning hate speech. Palfrey proposes an innovative way to support both diversity and free expression on campus: creating safe spaces and brave spaces. In safe spaces, students can explore ideas and express themselves with without feeling marginalized. In brave spaces--classrooms, lecture halls, public forums--the search for knowledge is paramount, even if some discussions may make certain students uncomfortable. The strength of our democracy, says Palfrey, depends on a commitment to upholding both diversity and free expression, especially when it is hardest to do so.

30 review for Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Chrisman

    Overall, a decent book about an important and timely topic. My rating is because it is a bit repetitive and the ideas of safe spaces and brave spaces— particularly how to establish and facilitate brave spaces— are hardly mentioned. It focuses more on the ideas of diversity and free expression without making a clear explicit connection between these ideas and safe/brave spaces. I also wish it had emphasized how these ideas impact marginalized groups more— while this was sometimes considered, more Overall, a decent book about an important and timely topic. My rating is because it is a bit repetitive and the ideas of safe spaces and brave spaces— particularly how to establish and facilitate brave spaces— are hardly mentioned. It focuses more on the ideas of diversity and free expression without making a clear explicit connection between these ideas and safe/brave spaces. I also wish it had emphasized how these ideas impact marginalized groups more— while this was sometimes considered, more focus on the role privilege plays in these conversations would strengthen the argument.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I started my 2019 reading year with a bit of a letdown. “Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces” had some strong moments to it and presented a solid overview of key free speech issues related to educational institutions and actors. However, the impact of the book for me does not go much beyond that. I had been hoping for an examination fascinating, unique issues related to campuses, but Palfrey sticks mostly to the issues I would have expected to see here. He also treats nearly all diverse perspectives as va I started my 2019 reading year with a bit of a letdown. “Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces” had some strong moments to it and presented a solid overview of key free speech issues related to educational institutions and actors. However, the impact of the book for me does not go much beyond that. I had been hoping for an examination fascinating, unique issues related to campuses, but Palfrey sticks mostly to the issues I would have expected to see here. He also treats nearly all diverse perspectives as valid, which in an era of unethical communication and misinformation is dangerous territory and something that was hard to shake in my reading of the book. Additionally, I struggled with Palfrey’s writing. At times I found his coverage of topics to be repetitive across chapters (or within) and the transitions between paragraphs or sections were sometimes unclear or lacking meaning. There was a wide range of tone and formality as well, at times intricate in language; at others informal and jocular. That is not to say that the writing wasn’t serviceable; it communicated everything with clarity. However, I can’t help but feel that Palfrey didn’t find his voice and was stretching to turn this topic into a full book. In fact, early in the book he said this was originally going to be an article. Perhaps a tighter page count would have also tightened the writing and forced Palfrey to be more direct and assertive. This still gets 3 stars because it does what it sets out to do and I could see this book assigned in a class as an overview to the topic, but I don’t think it breaks new ground.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joyce Day

    A Helpful and Intelligent Response The polarization in our world today must be turned around and what better place for that to begin than on our educational campuses. This book helps to sort out the issues involved in making that happen and offers wise words regarding the limits of tolerance in our goal of free speech.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christina Brandsma

    This book was well-written and contained well-researched information as well as thoughtful analysis. It is a little basic, but also spurs good conversation in light of these topics in our current political and social climate.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Although I was already familiar with most of these ideas, I found it helpful to have them brought together in one place. I particularly enjoyed the last chapter, "Why the Diversity and Free Expression Debate Matters". Lots of good quotes. Although I was already familiar with most of these ideas, I found it helpful to have them brought together in one place. I particularly enjoyed the last chapter, "Why the Diversity and Free Expression Debate Matters". Lots of good quotes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Timely. Not his best writing. His premise is well worth spending time in, so it was not a wasted read. I will miss his voice in education, now that he is moving out of Andover.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Santulli

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jan Schaller

  9. 5 out of 5

    José

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amber

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dean G

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carson Teitler

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin O'Brien

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Hines

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alessandra

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tommy O'Keefe

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Fahrenthold

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  22. 5 out of 5

    JIM DICKINSON

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carl Steidel

  24. 4 out of 5

    Max McDevitt

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adithya Sukumar

  26. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bob Cat

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jess

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  30. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

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