An exciting and emerging area of study, Consciousness Studies focus on the transformative experiences, practices and beliefs of many cultural, religious, spiritual, and psychotherapeutic traditions. The Consciousness Studies Concentration at Goddard College is an interdisciplinary graduate education that draws upon a number of disciplines, including the neurosciences, philosophy of mind, anthropology of consciousness, Jungian psychology, religious studies, psychology, the arts and the humanities.
Students pursuing the Consciousness Studies Concentration develop an integrated understanding of the origin, evolution, and expansion of human consciousness. The emphasis at Goddard is on developing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of consciousness that is open to a range of perspectives from the scientific to the transpersonal.
Our integral approach to the study of consciousness honors equally:
- Knowledge traditions from the intuitive to the scientific
- The deeply personal, experiential nature of learning
- The socially transformative impact of an engaged practice
The faculty in the Goddard Graduate Institute have longstanding presence in the college and bring to their work a host of professional skills and disciplinary areas. Fields of expertise include consciousness studies, expressive arts therapy, ecopsychology, cultural studies, gender studies, poetry, literature, psychology, natural history, organizational and community development, neuroscience, medical anthropology, religious studies, theater, and Ayurvedic medicine, among other areas. Much of the work and interests of the faculty is in keeping with the college’s activist and social justice mission. The Faculty also have a range of international experience both in terms of work and research conducted in other areas of the world and in terms of their own lived experiences. Read more about the Graduate Institute faculty.
Core Learning Areas
To acquire a broad understanding of the theory and practice of consciousness studies a number of disciplines and perspectives are necessary. These can be brought together into the following core areas to offer a way of classifying different approaches to the expression and study of consciousness. They also provide a basic contextual and interdisciplinary framework within which students pursue their individualized studies.
- The Scientific and Philosophical Study of Consciousness: The scientific and philosophical approach to the study of consciousness can be highly technical and intellectually demanding, drawing on disciplines from the neurosciences to the philosophy of mind. As part of the field of Consciousness Studies, it is important to have an overview of the ongoing work being done in these areas.
- The Social Scientific Study of Consciousness: Various social scientific disciplines have provided material and additional perspectives on the study and exploration of consciousness, especially in terms of the personal, social and cultural contexts. Chiefly, these have been psychology, sociology, and anthropology.
- The Transpersonal Study of Consciousness: The term “transpersonal” covers a range of meaning that is evident in the prefix ”trans” and refers not only to “beyond,” but also “across,” “through,” “pervading,” “directed towards change or transformation.” The transpersonal approach involves many fields such as religious studies, transpersonal and Jungian psychology, as well as deep ecology.
- The Arts and Humanities: Both the Arts and Humanities provide content and a perspective that has shaped the way humans give expression to various forms of consciousness. In particular, the visual arts and literature provide additional sources for the study and exploration of consciousness from the symbolic and imaginary to the aesthetic.
Work of the Program
An intensive residency week begins the work of the semester in a noncompetitive atmosphere. Workshops, peer groups, seminars, mini-courses, individual conferences, readings, and celebrations inspire and facilitate the focus of the semester’s work and the creation of a study plan intended to address degree criteria as well as each student’s academic goals.
Criteria for Graduation
Those working in Consciousness Studies Concentration are required to fulfill the degree requirements for the Master of Arts. You will accomplish this when you have met these specific Consciousness Studies degree criteria:
- Demonstrated an understanding of the wide range of concerns, issues and questions central to Consciousness Studies, as identified under Core Learning Areas and in the Core Reading Resource list, and their relevance for your work. Part of doing this requires you to demonstrate an ability to articulate and have discourse with positions that are a challenge to your own perspective and practice.
- Demonstrated mastery that represents a unique intersection of the more defined focus of study that you have identified and agreed upon with your faculty advisors and the ability to situate it in the context of Consciousness Studies as a whole.
- Documented an engaged practice and reflected upon its relevance to self, to community, and to your specific areas of study.
- Completed an identity statement articulating your personal reflections on “consciousness.”
Goddard offers students the ability to chart their own paths and develop, or further develop, the habits and skills of life-long learning.
An application for admission to a graduate program may be questioned or rejected because of:
- Curricular Limits: The proposed study appears to require expertise not available at Goddard.
- Critical Inquiry: The proposed study appears to consist in research or other activities designed to proselytize for a theory or point of view important to the applicant, rather than a scholarly study of that and other theories or points of view.
- Readiness: The student has not earned a baccalaureate degree or its international equivalent or application materials otherwise indicate the student is not ready for a graduate-level, writing-intensive independent program of study.