A Rational Alternative To “Safe Spaces” On Campus

The promise of a liberal arts education is to provide challenging, unpredictable, and even uncomfortable intellectual and interpersonal encounters in order to produce the capacity for critical thinking, open-mindedness, and critical self-examination in graduates who are less dogmatic and prejudiced than when they arrived; more conscious of and able to transcend their biases and in-group identifications; more capable of dealing with complexity, diversity, and change; better equipped to relate with compassion to people from a diverse spectrum of viewpoints and backgrounds; and more able to accept responsibility for the practical and ethical consequences of their ideas, words, and actions. Rather than being intellectually safe spaces in which all offense is banned, liberal arts colleges could be spaces in which it is safe for students and faculty to contend with, consider, and engage with people and ideas with whom they fundamentally disagree. This is the kind of education that sustains a free and open society and allows us to embrace the full breadth of our human family.

—Pamela B. Paresky. “How Making Colleges ‘Safe Spaces’ Makes Us All Less Safe” (HT: Derek Halvorson)

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

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  1. Being intolerant of the intolerant gets pretty complicated. Accusations of intolerance toward Anabaptists because of their unwillingness to act as normal “natural law” magistrates tend to be followed up by accusations against the same Anabaptists as wanting to take over and be sectarian theo-crats. Why can’t they be normal like us?

    Sometimes the distinction between faith and works comes to mean redefining the works Jesus said to do. Believing the gospel comes to mean doing only what any normal ordinary person would do.

    Will we segregate those who segregate? Every inclusion is also an exclusion. it seems to me that Donald Trump aspires to be the new Woodrow Wilson


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