Student Affairs

Addressing Student ''Resistance'' to Social Justice Learning

Duration: 1 hour
Facilitator: Dr. Beth Berila & Dr. Jason Laker
Price: $98.00

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When learning about social justice concepts, students have a range of reactions that often get framed as "resistance," as though students are willfully resistant to learning about social justice. While that may be true in some cases, we suggest that those reactions are inevitable when their worldviews are challenged. The dissonance that results unsettles students intellectually and emotionally, and they often lack the tools to understand and productively reflect upon those reactions. In this webinar, we draw on mindfulness to helps reframe these reactions and offer specific practices that can be used to help students sit with their discomfort. By integrating mindfulness with social justice pedagogy, student affairs professionals can help students more intentionally respond to issues of oppression rather than merely react to them.


  • Participants will learn to reframe different student reactions to social justice course material.
  • Participants will better understand how mindfulness can help students sit with and reflect upon their discomfort to unsettling course material.
  • Participants will learn specific mindfulness practices to utilize in moments of student dissonance.


Beth Berila, Ph.D. is the Director of the Women's Studies Program and Professor in the Ethnic and Women's Studies Department at St. Cloud State University. She is also a 500-hour certified yoga teacher and an Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist. Her recent book, Integrating Mindfulness into Anti-Oppression Pedagogy: Social Justice and Higher Education was published by Routledge in 2015. She is on the Diversity, Access, and Inclusion Committee for the Association for Contemplative Mind in Society and a Community Partner of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. She is also the creator of The Mindful Semester: Yoga and Meditation for College Success. Learn more about her work at

Dr. Jason Laker has over 20 years of successful and progressively more complex administrative leadership experiences in student and academic affairs, at six distinct institutional environments (e.g., research, public, private, large, small, religious, liberal arts) in the U.S. and Canada (he is originally from Detroit, Michigan). He has served as Chief Student Affairs Officer at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and is currently a tenured, Full Professor in the Lurie College of Education at San José State University in California. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona's Center for the Study of Higher Education, an M.A. in Community Counseling from Adams State College (CO), and a B.S. in Organizational Communication from Central Michigan University. He has presented and published numerous articles and conference sessions, including four edited texts: Masculinities in Higher Education (Routledge, 2011 with Tracy Davis), Canadian Perspectives on Men and Masculinities (Oxford, 2011), Citizenship, Democracy and Higher Education in Europe, Canada and the USA (2014, Palgrave UK), and Civic Pedagogies in Higher Education: Teaching for Democracy in Europe, Canada and the USA (2014, Palgrave UK).

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