Re-conceptualizing Safe Spaces

Cover of Re-conceptualizing Safe Spaces

Supporting Inclusive Education

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Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xix
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Section I Aspects Addressing the Conceptualization of Safe Spaces in Education

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Abstract

This chapter introduces the purpose and structure of this edited volume, including why safe spaces are needed in educational settings, how to think about what makes a space safe for different individuals or groups, and aspects to consider in creating and maintaining safe spaces. It describes the two broad sections, the first of which comprises chapters that introduce the problem, context, need for safe spaces (Chapter 2), the broad conceptual frames supporting them (Chapter 3), and detail and deconstruct examples of various safe spaces created in diverse educational settings (Chapter 4). Chapters in Section II include aspects of the conceptual foundations and details about the purpose, development, and implementation processes, and outcomes of various efforts to create and/or maintain a safe space for education.

Abstract

This chapter describes why safe spaces are needed in education settings for full inclusion of gendered identities as they intersect with categories such as race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and ability. This discussion briefly addresses varying and intersecting levels and domains of privilege or marginalization such as identity, inter-/intraaction, organization, society, and knowledge, and how safe spaces in education can support learning as it is entwined with gender, gendered biases, and power dynamics and structures.

Abstract

This chapter provides foundations of differentiating the sophisticated and various theoretical approaches towards safe spaces demonstrated in this book. For the purpose of framing the examples provided in this collection, we offer three broad ways of thinking about safe spaces: safe learning spaces as separate, counterhegemonic, or third spaces; safe learning spaces of difference, sameness, and intersecting identities; and deliberative and democratic learning spaces. It needs to be noted, however, that these are not mutually exclusive but different aspects to consider and that they each operate within and across, and are therefore influenced by, the five levels of inequity discussed in Chapter 2. That said, not all levels of inequity are necessarily addressed by any given space, regardless of the frame used to interpret it. This discussion respects the multiple paradoxes in education, especially the one of pluralism and sameness, offering approaches to modes and learning settings of inclusion and exclusion and how they create different, yet “safe,” spaces.

Abstract

This chapter discusses and interprets examples of safe spaces through the lenses provided in Chapters 2 and 3. Specifically, we discuss a few diverse examples of safe spaces for learning and development taken from children's literature, an art exhibit, a feature-length movie, and a professional development experience, detailing how each can be seen in terms of to what extent it offers a separate safe space, works with aspects of sameness/difference and intersectionality, and/or creates a space for democratic iterations that address one or more of the levels of inequity.

Section II Interventions Addressing the Performance of Safe Spaces in Education

Abstract

This study is a meditation of the master's program “Globalization and Education” at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. It contributes an evaluation of the function of bravery in academic discourse. Safety and bravery refer to the complexity of educational space in higher education: to interactions in the classroom, the institutional context, and social imaginaries of Western modernity. While civility and respect are essential, and potential causes of pain should be acknowledged, the control of conduct can never fully guarantee safety. The chapter proposes replacing the classroom with a research community. It would no longer excessively focus on the relationship between a teacher and students, but the subject matter. The commitment becomes more symmetrical, and, therefore, a research community creates a brave space.

Abstract

The shift in undergraduate student demographic composition, particularly for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, has been coupled with an ever increasing need for faculty to be more culturally aware and responsive. Traditionally, higher education has relied on the professional development programs of disciplinary societies and associations to meet such needs. However, designing professional development for STEM faculty in ways that awaken awarenesses about racial differences and their impact on academic success requires more than the conventional faculty development offerings, which, more often than not, only give cursory nods to difference or limit programming to “cookbook” protocols of do's and don'ts. Indeed, today's STEM faculty professional development must be met with more sophisticated paradigms that foreground personal reflection and development. Safe brave spaces represent an ideal mechanism for supporting not only personal reflection but also the grappling with and letting go of the destructive values and beliefs that negatively impact undergraduate STEM student success. The chapter offers the reader a view into our perspective as conveners of safe brave professional development spaces. In it, we also share the words of a safe brave space occupier, demonstrating how the power of reflection can influence the value of safe brave spaces. As a result, the reader is left with a different lens through which STEM faculty professional development programs can and should be considered – whether it is who is in them, who is missing from them, or what is required to facilitate more productive interactions within them. Admittedly, there is more work yet to be done. Understanding that this work requires safety and bravery is a necessary next step.

Abstract

Through scholarly personal narrative (Nash, 2004), this chapter outlines a multifaceted approach to creating safer brave spaces for queer and trans students within a predominantly Hispanic-serving, public research university with a mainly commuter student population in South Florida. All spaces require courageous acts of authenticity on the part of its occupants. Thus, the creation of safer brave spaces is acknowledged as a practice since safety is an ideal to be worked toward especially for those with less power and privilege, such as queer and trans people as opposed to straight and cisgender people. Experiences of heterosexism and cisgenderism are positively associated with psychological distress among queer and trans college students (Goldberg, Kuvalanka, & Black, 2019; Sue, 2010; Woodford, Kulick, Sinco, & Hong, 2014). Research suggests empowerment and the acquisition of power is a positive coping mechanism for resisting and overcoming experiences of heterosexism and cisgenderism (Mizock, 2017; Nadal, Davidoff, Davis, & Wong, 2014; Todoroff, 1995). Administrators are called upon to mindfully create spaces that empower queer and trans students. Quick tips throughout the chapter highlight that queer and trans students should be given opportunities to determine their own risks, choose their own mentors, create their own spaces, have their own voices centered, realize their own solutions, fail and learn from setbacks, and deconstruct systems of power. At the University level, administrators should work to educate and change policies that further support students' opportunities to courageously exist and persist authentically in spaces across the university as a whole and not just in designated centers.

Abstract

This chapter examines the continued presence of sexualized violence against girls and gender nonconforming/lesbian, gay, trans* or inter* students in education. It discusses endeavours to establish ‘true’ safe spaces as preconditions for and effects of efforts to prevent or minimize sexualized violence. It shows thereby that debates on safe or even brave spaces provide further stimuli for the topic of sexualized violence and reveals the significance of the interaction of sexism, heteronormativity and hatred of people who are perceived as ‘different’. Counselling centres, survivor support associations, schools, and child and youth welfare organizations are now developing concepts to protect all target groups. However, there is still a lack of sufficient and well-conceived offers, especially for lesbians, gays and trans*. Strengthening the agency of those affected could be a promising starting point.

Abstract

Starting from the premise that lifelong learning is a significant asset when it comes to enjoying an active ageing process and an important resource for exploring new interests and capacities that were not developed in previous life stages, this contribution explores our findings regarding the participation of older women in higher education in Cantabria, a Northern Atlantic Spanish region. Through analyzing secondary data provided by the main higher education institutions and associations involved with the organization of lifelong learning programmes, it identifies gendered patterns of participation in both the formal and informal educational options. Women's greater involvement in these programmes is analyzed in terms of overcoming a patriarchal traditional culture that in past times had not considered women as active participants in educational spaces. This was particularly clear in the context of the years following the end of the Spanish Civil War and during Franco's dictatorship. Through education, for women, ageing becomes a new life opportunity for self-construction and empowerment as well as for their own decision making in relation to their own life chances. Educational changes implemented in Spain in the last decades have opened up many alternatives to formal education at adult educational centres and university levels. These include informal and semi-formal programmes and educational options opened to people independently of their previous educational backgrounds that provide many opportunities for filling educational gaps to generations of women who could not have consistent access to formal, high-quality training in their youth.

Abstract

This chapter explores the methods developed to improve STEM success for students at two public urban institutions, a project whose aim is to improve academic outcomes for undergraduate students, especially for those most vulnerable and least likely to succeed in this student population. The theory of change that underpins the project – including its activities and its evaluation plan – posits that three interlocked activities (course redesign, peer mentors and articulation) will lead to improvements in academic outcomes and ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of increasing the number of students from underserved backgrounds who graduate with baccalaureate STEM degrees. The project focusses on the first courses students take in STEM, where they are also most likely to fail. We describe the methodology developed for faculty development and the organizational structure of the peer mentoring component for these courses. Both of these components constitute safe spaces where faculty and peer mentors learn to support students using evidence-based and inclusive instructional practices. Courses redesigned by faculty were offered following a cluster-level randomized control trial design, where sections were assigned to treatment (with or without a peer) or control. These interventions have a positive impact on cumulative GPA, according to preliminary analyses. The project also has a positive effect on faculty participants and on peer mentors, both groups now better prepared to jointly deliver STEM curricula in more effective ways. Among the reasons why this works, instructor empathy surfaces as playing a leading role in academic outcomes for undergraduate students.

Abstract

This chapter is based on qualitative data collected in the course of a research project characterized by the use of a range of participatory methods with the purpose of providing a creative space for migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women discussing familial practices. The ambiguities of the term ‘safe space’ are explored in light of the fact space cannot be entirely safe as is imbued with power relations including racialized and gendered hierarchies, among others. The fieldwork for the project discussed here revealed potential uncertainties and pitfalls in the creation of a space which is safe enough to share personal experiences in the context of a research project.

Abstract

More than 10 years after its founding, the STEM Women of Color Conclave® has emerged as the largest safe brave space in the United States for women faculty of color in the academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Originally intended to be a national assembly, the Conclave® has evolved into a safe brave space that serves as a refuge for STEM women faculty of color who are regularly taxed with the struggle of having to navigate the unwelcoming, and often hostile, environments of the ivory tower in very unique ways. This chapter narrates how the Conclave's founding members journeyed toward creating and sustaining this safe brave space. The reader is awakened to deeper awareness of and sensitivities for the ways in which safe brave spaces must address both the complexities related to struggle – and liberation from that struggle – for both occupiers and observers of safe brave spaces. However, just as the quantum observer can disturb the system just by observing it and, ultimately, change or even nullify the results, we recognize that merely observing the Conclave® would nullify its intended purpose and, in the end, render it unsafe. Therefore, the reader can anticipate an absence of direct observations, reports of outcomes, or specific accounts of progress related to the occupiers of our safe brave space. Rather, the chapter offers an invitation to the reader to explore the authors' lived experiences as occupiers who designed a safe brave space. We invite the reader, particularly those who are also observers of safe brave spaces, to join us in protecting these valuable spaces.

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to invite readers into a discussion of experiences with and perspectives on creating safer spaces in education. Dialog has been used to demonstrate analytical processes and meaning-making, as well as aspects of “space” in education research. This dialog represents a safe space to share and access insights, experiences, and reactions to the ways in which we can foster safer spaces in education for our students and ourselves.

Index

Pages 205-207
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Cover of Re-conceptualizing Safe Spaces
DOI
10.1108/9781839822506
Publication date
2021-10-25
Editors
ISBN
978-1-83982-251-3
eISBN
978-1-83982-250-6