Ph.D. in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
California Institute of Integral Studies
Distance Learning, On-Campus
4 - 7 years
Earliest start date
CIIS’ Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Ph.D. program has been designed to help shape the intellectual, moral, and spiritual leadership necessary for meeting historic global challenges. The crisis of late modernity calls for a fundamental reorientation of our civilization, including a transformation of both our institutions and our own consciousness.
Drawing upon some of the most powerful ideas and impulses of our philosophical, scientific, and religious traditions, the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Ph.D. is constructed with an intensive multidisciplinary course of study to help accelerate students' journeys into their leadership roles.
The curriculum is offered in both online and in person formats and students may select from the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness track or the Integral Ecology track. Coursework is customizable with a wide variety of electives available. Upon taking and passing their comprehensive exams, students begin the process of writing their dissertation beginning with the dissertation proposal. After completion, candidates must defend their dissertation before a committee of faculty members.
Online students are highly encouraged, but not required, to participate in the annual residential retreat, intensive courses, and other program-associated events held in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Our doctoral program supports students in the cultivation of both intellectual rigor and sympathetic imaginative capacities which will better enable them to enter fruitfully into a plurality of worldviews, historical eras, and cultural sensibilities. By understanding transformative historical and contemporary ideas, students will develop the ability to discern creative possibilities for bringing about life-enhancing futures.
Goal 1: Agents of Change: To generate creative and effective thinking and action in response to the unprecedented evolutionary challenge of the ecological, cultural, and spiritual crises that are currently facing the human and nonhuman members of the Earth community.
- Students will be able to articulate sophisticated critiques of the causes and consequences of the current planetary crises.
- In response to the dominant worldview, students will be able to generate alternatives that promote a socially and ecologically just future for the entire Earth community.
Goal 2: Sophisticated Evaluation: To develop and apply appreciative and critical evaluations of major transitions in worldviews including those that have contributed to the current planetary situation.
- Students will be able to speak and write cogently about the nature of worldviews for a variety of scholarly and popular audiences.
- Students will be able to engage confidently as public intellectuals in conversation regarding the history of and interaction between Western, Asian, and indigenous perspectives, remaining sensitive to the dangers of appropriation while also developing an appreciation for the potential of newly emerging hybridizations of these perspectives.
Goal 3: Transdisciplinarity: To critique, evaluate, and apply for a transdisciplinary scholarship.
- Students will demonstrate competence in transdisciplinary thinking by integrating content and frameworks from a variety of disciplines to create scholarly products.
- Students will be able to engage critically and constructively with a diverse array of research topics (e.g., religious, spiritual, and esoteric traditions, historical and scientific paradigms, and other, marginalized perspectives and ways of knowing).
Goal 4: Inner and Outer Evolution: To clarify and expand the relevance of ideas studied to one's personal life and aspirations, with an eye to their implications for the transformation of culture and society at large.
- Students will be able to build connections between their studies, their personal lives, and the larger communities in which they are embedded.
- Students will be able to tap into and express individual creativity through personal and/or scholarly communication.
Goal 5: Historical Knowledge: To analyze the evolution of Western thought through the ideas of major figures of Western intellectual and spiritual history in relation to the challenges of the present moment.
- Students will be able to pass two comprehensive exams, one of which will demonstrate comprehension of principal ideas and themes in the development of Western thought as reflected in the program's "Guide to Important Texts" (available in our office or on MyCIIS).
- Students will be able to demonstrate familiarity with the relevant developments in the history of Western thought in the formal treatment of the dissertation topic.
Goal 6: Original Contribution: To produce a work of original scholarship of publishable quality that engages ideas from a transdisciplinary perspective, including a sufficient mastery in-depth of at least one subject area, with an eye to the paradigmatic assumptions and implications for the transformation of culture and society at large.
- Students will be able to present the research and ideas that will form the basis of a dissertation in a well-organized and persuasive public lecture to our community of faculty and students.
- Students will be able to write a dissertation that offers a substantial and original contribution to scholarship and is certified as such by at least two of our program's faculty members. The dissertation is not to exceed 250 pages.