Office of the President

Safe Enough Spaces

Safe Enough Spaces

In this bracing book, Michael S. Roth stakes out a pragmatist path through the thicket of issues facing colleges today to carry out the mission of higher education. With great empathy, candor, subtlety, and insight, Roth offers a sane approach to the noisy debates surrounding affirmative action, political correctness, and free speech, urging us to envision college as a space in which students are empowered to engage with criticism and with a variety of ideas.

Countering the increasing cynical dismissal—from both liberals and conservatives—of the traditional core values of higher education, this book champions the merits of different diversities, including intellectual diversity, with a timely call for universities to embrace boldness, rigor, and practical idealism.


Explore media coverage of the book below:

May 12, 2020 - HxA Podcast: Half Hour of HeterodoxyRadio
Episode 85: Michael Roth, Safe Enough Spaces

President Roth is interviewed for the Heterodox Academy's podcast, after Safe Enough Spaces was selected as the subject of HxA's first-ever book club. [ Read More ]

Feb. 6, 2020 - Los Angeles Review of Books
"We Need More Vigorous Debate": A Conversation With Michael S. Roth

In this interview, President Roth discusses his career path from intellectual historian to university administrator and professor, and offers his unique perspective on debates surrounding freedom of speech and political correctness. [ Read More ]

Feb. 3, 2020 - 92Y
Michael Roth with Fareed Zakaria: Free Speech and Political Correctness on College Campuses

President Roth and CNN host and author Fareed Zakaria held a public conversation at the 92Y about many of the challenges facing higher education today, which Roth addresses in his book. [ Read More ]

Jan. 5, 2020 - Los Angeles Review of Books
Is Safe-Enough Pragmatism Good Enough?

Swarthmore College philosophy professor Richard Eldridge reviews Safe Enough Spaces and meditates on the political and social fractures that divide contemporary society. [ Read More ]

Dec. 19, 2019 - Literary Hub
How Should We Define Free Speech at Universities?

President Roth discusses Safe Enough Spaces with Roxanne Coady, founder of RJ Julia Booksellers. The podcast is adapted from a public discussion between the two held at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Sept. 26. [ Read More ]

Dec. 11, 2019 - Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
Book Review: Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses, by Michael S. Roth

"In part because it reflects an inside vantage point, Safe Enough Spaces is a valuable and unique contribution to a growing collection of literature examining the contemporary campus. Given that this one liberally features free speech and its important role in creating dynamic learning environments, it will appeal to many journalism educators," concludes this review of Safe Enough Spaces. [ Read More ]

Nov. 25, 2019 - CNN
What the 'Woke Student' and the 'Welfare Queen' Have in Common

"Every age seems to need a bogeyman, some negative image against which good people measure themselves," begins this op-ed by President Roth, in which he attempts to set the record straight with respect to widespread negative perceptions of the "politically correct, 'woke' college student." [ Read More ]

Nov. 11, 2019 - Hebrew Union College's "College Commons" PodcastRadio
Michael S. Roth: "Safe" Spaces?

President Roth discusses the place of religious faith in the classroom in connection with his book, Safe Enough Spaces. [ Read More ]

Oct. 3, 2019 - Hartford Courant
Wesleyan President Michael Roth Argues for 'Safe Enough Spaces' on College Campuses in New Book

In this interview, President Roth discusses political correctness, parochialism, and why angry debate is better than no debate at all. [ Read More ]

Oct. 2, 2019 - Yale University Press Blog
Political Correctness: Are the Kids on Campus Alright?

In this blog post, President Roth provides a brief history of "political correctness," and calls upon students, faculty and citizens alike to "avoid falling into the tired tropes of both callout culture and accusations of political correctness." [ Read More ]

Sept. 19, 2019 - Tablet MagazineRadio
The One With the Instagram Rabbis

President Roth speaks on the "Unorthodox" podcast about free speech on campus and making students feel "safe enough, but not too safe" to explore new ideas and perspectives. (Roth comes in around 49 minutes). [ Read More ]

Sept. 18, 2019 - KERARadio
Do Colleges Really Need Safe Spaces?

In this wide-ranging conversation, President Roth speaks with host Kris Boyd about balancing students' need to feel safe and included on campuses while keeping them open to new ideas. They also discuss the often misunderstood concept of "safe spaces." [ Read More ]

Sept. 17, 2019 - McCain InstituteTV
Are College Campuses Eroding Free Speech?

President Roth participates in a debate at George Washington University hosted by the McCain Institute on free speech on college campuses. [ Read More ]

Sept. 17, 2019 - Thrive Global
How a University Professor Creates a Powerful Learning Atmosphere for Students

An excerpt of Safe Enough Spaces is published on Thrive Global. [ Read More ]

Sept. 10, 2019 - CNN
Free Speech Wars Miss the Point of College

In this op-ed, President Roth argues against the "free market approach to speech" on college campuses, which he says is misleading, and causes real harm to people while also failing to ensure an airing of diverse viewpoints. [ Read More ]

Sept. 9, 2019 - WSHU's "The Full StoryRadio
Back to School: Start Times and Safe Spaces

President Roth talks about the need to proactively cultivate intellectual diversity on college campuses, and teaching students intellectual humility. (Roth comes in around 29 minutes). [ Read More ]

Sept. 5, 2019 - KQED's "Forum"Radio
Creating 'Safe Enough Spaces' on College Campuses

President Roth speaks with host Michael Krasny about creating environments where students feel heard and accepted, but can also participate in debates that challenge their beliefs. [ Read More ]

Sept. 1, 2019 - The Atlantic
When Faith Comes Up, Students Avert Their Eyes

In this essay, President Roth writes about the challenge of engaging students at a secular university in a class discussion on religious faith. [ Read More ]

Aug. 30, 2019 - The Washington Post
On College Campuses, Managing the Tension Between Inclusion and Ideas

This review calls Safe Enough Spaces "a timely book on a fascinating topic," noting, "Roth’s historical approach is useful and instructive," and "Roth is at his best at his most declarative." [ Read More ]

Aug. 29, 2009 - The New York Times
Don't Dismiss 'Safe Spaces'

In this op-ed, President Roth advocates for creating "safe enough spaces" on college campuses, which "promote a basic sense of inclusion and respect that enables students to learn and grow — to be open to ideas and perspectives so that the differences they encounter are educative." [ Read More ]

Aug. 23, 2019 - WGBHRadio
On Campus Radio

President Roth speaks with On Campus Radio about why this is a unique time in campus politics, what it means to be truly "inclusive" on campus, and how to cultivate intellectual diversity at colleges and universities. (President Roth comes in around 41 minutes). [ Read More ]

Aug. 23, 2019 - EducationNext
Two Answers to Political Correctness

Safe Enough Spaces is reviewed along with, and in contrast to, another new book dealing with issues of campus diversity. [ Read More ]

Aug. 23, 2019 - Leonard Lopate at LargeRadio
Michael Roth

President Roth discusses why this is an "inflection point" in the history of higher education, weighs in on debates about higher education access, and more. [ Read More ]

Aug. 22, 2019 - Boston Globe
Don't Get All PC About My Truth

In this op-ed, President Roth writes about the evolution of the term "politically correct," and argues "the phrase has long been a free pass for avoiding serious issues." [ Read More ]

Aug. 21, 2019 - The Jim Bohannon ShowRadio
Michael Roth

President Roth engages in a wide-ranging conversation on Safe Enough Spaces with Jim Bohannon. [ Read More ]

Aug. 20, 2019 - The New York Times
Two Views of the Tumult on American Campuses

Safe Enough Spaces is reviewed along with another recently published book, both of which provide different perspectives on questions related to campus diversity. [ Read More ]

Aug. 19, 2019 - The Brian Lehrer ShowRadio
College President on Free Speech, Safe Spaces, and Diversity

President Roth talks on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show about the “safe enough spaces” he envisions on college campuses; recalls a free speech controversy on Wesleyan’s campus; and takes calls from recent college graduates. [ Read More ]

Aug. 14, 2019 - Wisconsin Public RadioRadio
Inclusion, Free Speech and Political Correctness on College Campuses

President Roth speaks on Wisconsin Public Radio about the benefits of diversity and "constructive disagreement" on college campuses, creating authentic intellectual diversity, and why state legislatures are not the appropriate bodies to safeguard campus free speech. [ Read More ]

August 7, 2019 - Inside Higher Ed
'Safe Enough Spaces'

President Roth is interviewed about defending free speech, inclusion on campus, and affirmative action, among other topics in connection with his book. [ Read More ]

June 18, 2019 - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Disinvited Speakers Get a Platform to Talk About Being Denied One

President Roth spoke on a panel hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center about controversial speakers and other campus free speech topics. He argued that colleges and universities must safeguard robust intellectual debate while being sensitive to changing student demographics. [ Read More ]