Consciousness Studies Concentration
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, available to students enrolled in any of the degree options within the Goddard Graduate Institute, is an interdisciplinary 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.
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.
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor and course mentor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty advisor and course mentors.
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.
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.