Difficult conversations and controversial topics are common in the basic communication classroom, raising difficult challenges for course directors, instructors, and students. In response to this problem, many in higher education promote the development of “safe spaces.” Drawing from Eicher-Catt’s work on civility, this essay suggests shifting the focus from safe spaces to the development and maintenance of what Eicher-Catt calls communicative spaces. The notion of communicative spaces, when extended into the classroom, reorients our understanding of classroom civility and suggests practices for course directors, instructors, and students that affirm the dignity of students by attending not to their emotional needs but to the project of learning.
Karolak, H., & Maier, C. T. (2105). From “safe spaces” to “communicative spaces”: Semiotic labor, authentic civility and the basic communication course. Journal of the Association for Communication Administration, 34(2), 88-101.