“Safe space” is both a precondition, and one of the effects, of efforts of inclusiveness and egalitarian access to education. It supports and is supported by equitable learning opportunities through mutual appreciation, respect, and a coming to voice in schools and universities. By creating safe spaces for learning and unlearning, researchers and practitioners have been working to strengthen the purpose of schools and universities, where education and learning are intended for everyone (Giroux, 2015, 2014; Kincheloe, 2004), with the goal of increasing critical thinking and valuing difference (Benhabib, 2002, 2016). There is an ongoing tradition of discussing the issue of safe space in feminist studies (e.g., Keating, 1999). Drawing on this foundation in gender, we broaden and specify our focus to include gendered identities intersecting with class, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and ability within multiple aspects of education.
We want to showcase work supporting access to education of vulnerable populations, as well as efforts that help privileged groups understand their role in perpetuating the marginalization of others in educational spaces, by bringing into the popular discourse examples of the diverse and valuable work taking place. The vision for this research initiative and edited volume is to feature both scholarship and practice related to creating the kinds of spaces needed in education to support learning as it is entwined with gender, gendered biases, and power dynamics and structures. As such, this will combine foundational concepts with practical cases of creating safe spaces in various venues of education for diverse identities as they intersect with gender.
Why would we re-conceptualize safe space regarding gender towards inclusiveness? – Re-conceptualization stresses the process, flexibility, and the persistent efforts towards safe space. There is no concept of safe space to be discovered, but rather concepts to be discussed, optimized, transformed, rejected. Inclusiveness stresses the valuation of and the openness for diversity, difference, and heterogeneity. The initiative/book is an experiment in re-conceptualization and gender is its focal point.