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Wellness in the Academy: A Virtual International Symposium: Alexander

A LibGuide archiving presentations for Wellness in the Academy: A Virtual International Symposium

Core Curriculum: A Breathing Space For Wellness To Sustain Decolonizing Leadership


In 2020-2021, many university and college students and faculty experienced heightened stress given new virtual learning environments, the persistent digital divide, the global COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues. The author shares how offering students mindfulness pauses during virtual classes helped them to do the ‘heavy lifting' of unpacking challenging policy issues, from the ongoing human rights violations that Indigenous peoples continue to face around the world to the lack of policy action on the climate crisis. Students shared that the mindfulness pauses provided opportunities to check-in with themselves in a more holistic way, enabling them to concentrate more effectively on difficult subjects and to feel more empowered. The mindfulness practices offered a way for students to resist the ‘gravitational pull' of the Default Mode of neo-colonialism in the process of decolonizing themselves, as illustrated in an applied theoretical framework that the author co-created called The Default to Deliberation Framework (D2 Framework).


Cynthia J. Alexander is a political scientist and policy analyst who has been working with and for Indigenous peoples for forty years. She has collaborated with the Mi’kmaq First Nation for almost twenty years, including on the creation of an historic memorandum of agreement to create a welcoming and safe space for Indigenous students and community members on her campus. As a yoga and pilates instructor, she has been collaborating with a Mi’kmaq cultural teacher to create restorative spaces for Indigenous communities and for university campus members. As a settler scholar, Alexander continues to work to decolonize herself.

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