Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness


Community in the PCC PhD and MA Programs

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The PCC programs make every effort to cultivate a diverse, widespread, and supportive learning community in which personal and academic growth are valued and embraced. The programs offer a wide array of extracurricular events that contribute significantly to the richness of our learning environment. These have taken several forms, and include the following:


Every Fall, students, faculty, and alumni spend a week deeply immersed in community at the annual retreat, traditionally held at Esalen Institute. Retreat activities are cocreated by students and faculty, and include presentations, experiential workshops, excursions in nature, and a closing-night dance celebration.


The PCC Forum is an interdisciplinary student group that encourages contributions from across all programs at CIIS, but with priority to PCC students. Doctoral students are invited to share their research with their peers on Friday evenings throughout the semester. A typical Forum runs for two hours, with approximately one hour for the presenter and one hour for discussion. On occasion, faculty and other guest speakers are invited to lecture. The Forum is video taped and made available online. Visit for videos of past speakers and for the schedule of future Forums. Contact Matt Segall ( or Becca Tarnas ( for more information.


Held at least once a semester, community meetings provide an opportunity to reflect upon where we are, both personally and academically, as individuals and as a collective. While the format for community meetings continues to evolve, the meetings help to foster a greater sense of purpose, meaning, and energy for individual and collective action.


Each semester begins with a party for students, faculty, and alumni.


PCC has organized or sponsored a variety of conferences over the years, from "Meeting the Millennium" and "Evolution and Complexity" to "Planetwork," "The Cosmological Imagination," and "Wisdom and Action."

Student participation at these conferences—whether as presenters, organizers, or attendees—has been an invaluable element of the PCC learning environment. Since 2008, the student organized "Cosmology of Love" conference has featured presenters that included students, CIIS faculty, and national figures.


PCC Unplugged

In recognition of the importance of creative expression, PCC Unplugged gives students, faculty, and alumni the opportunity to share song, performance, poetry, spoken word, and more.


In 2003, PCC students formed a group designed to address the current mass-extinction crisis. The group evolved into Species Alliance, a nonprofit organization and documentary film project. For more information visit


The Gaiafield Project arose through the collaboration between two PCC students--David Nicol and Leslie Meehan--and faculty member Sean Kelly around the idea and practice of what they came to call "subtle activism." For more information visit


An important element in the framing of students' experience of our program is the graduation ritual, where graduates are given a PCC "Philosopher's Stone" by their advisor/mentor, and where graduates are given space to share something to mark the successful completion of their journey.