Brave Spaces Are Preferred

Arao & Clemens “seek to cultivate brave spaces rather than safe spaces for group learning about a broad range of diversity and social justice issues” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p.141).  I agree with this approach because the term brave spaces “clarifies that these environments are challenging and that students are expected to participate within them” (Ali, 2017, p.8). Thus, I think discussions in brave spaces are more likely to be productive than those in safe spaces.

On a related note, I found out that the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) recommends brave spaces for class discussions. “Administrators, faculty, and staff can replace use of the term safe space, as it pertains to class-based dialogues, with that of brave space. By using the term brave space, faculty are able to distinguish an inclusive classroom discussion from programming on campus that commonly provides respite space for traditionally marginalized communities” (Ali, 2017, p.8).

Ali, D. (2017). Safe Spaces and Brave Spaces: Historical Context and Recommendations for Student Affairs Professionals. NASPA Policy and Practice Series, 2, 1-13. Retrieved from

Arao, B. & Clemens, K. (2013). From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice. In L. M. Landreman (Ed), The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (First ed.), (pp.135-150). Sterling, Virginia; Washington, DC;: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

13 Replies to “Brave Spaces Are Preferred”

  1. Interesting. I also like the concept of a brave space, as you are right, it does encourage people to challenge themselves and come outside of their comfort zones. However, I wonder if safe spaces should still exist (or have a safe AND brave space), as there are likely many people who want somewhere safe to go but perhaps are not ready to be “brave” and talk themselves. A safe space implies that you don’t have to go to talk. You can just go and “be.” A brave space, in my opinion, has the connotation that you are expected to talk.

  2. I have not before been familiar with the term ‘brave space’ and enjoy the examples you provide. I wonder how to effectively incorporate all of these components in order to be an effective and inclusive educator in order to create brave spaces, especially as one starts out.

  3. The brave space idea sounds great. Like Erin said, I think there is definitely a benefit to having “safe spaces” somewhere but I don’t think classrooms or even public spaces on campus are those places. We need classrooms to be places for open discussion and places to come together and learn, even from opinions we don’t like. We don’t learn from hearing only things that are comfortable. That doesn’t mean classrooms should become “rude” spaces or “hateful” spaces, but it does mean that we need to be brave enough to express our opinions and then to be quiet and listen when others express theirs. I still think it’s great that several professors have offered their offices as safe spaces and I think that you can do things to make the places you’re in be safe spaces. I just think that we should truly be pushing for inclusivity and diversity for all voices, not just for kicking out the voices we don’t like until we’re comfortable with the voices that are left. We’ll never progress that way.

  4. I think you’re right about “brave spaces” being more productive for “uncomfortable conversations,” Ernesto. Maybe in class tomorrow you can talk some about the distinctions between brave and safe spaces?

  5. One reason I like the idea of brave spaces over safe spaces is that safe spaces puts the burden of sharing on one person or a group of people. A classroom as a brave space seems to suggest that all students may be challenged and grow as a result of listening, talking and participating.

  6. Great post Ernesto!
    I really like your points here. Opening up the classroom for conversation by creating these spaces offers a sanctuary for students to be themselves. Brave spaces is an interesting concept, which helps people talk and discuss their problems.

  7. Interesting! Thanks for sharing this article. I also did not get the differences between brave and safe spaces very well, and your explanation and paper help a lot. “Language is important and may contribute to misconceptions of the goals of creating inclusive environments.” This paper discusses that a safe space may not be entirely safe and it provided many good points how to make the inclusive environment in the classes and on-campus.

  8. This is definitely interesting to think about! I could see how the terminology could make a difference specially if time is taken to explain it to the students in the classroom.

  9. Thank you for sharing this Ernesto! I think it’s all right to think about safe spaces and wanting to improve the concept. I especially appreciate the attention given in the policy document to keeping the main features of safe spaces, as well as encouraging dialogue. This can be tricky and the policy puts it under “Owning intentions and impacts”: That individuals have to consider how exercising their freedom of expression can affect others negatively. All in all, very interesting idea.

  10. Thanks for the great post! I have never thought about that distinction before. As you said, brave space gives us more opportunity to say something laud more, while safe places allow us to say or discuss something only when we feel “safe” to say.

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