Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness

Students and Alumni

Students and Alumni of the PCC PhD and MA Programs


Dr. Natalie Metz was born in Bridgeport, CT, studied Chemistry at Elon University, and worked as a pharmaceutical chemist before attending Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, where she earned a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine in 2006. She has a private medical practice and serves as faculty at a variety of educational institutions. She is passionate about plant medicine and natural healing arts philosophy, and is interested in researching the health benefits of entheogenic plants and psychedelics. She hopes to one day open an herbal apothecary which will serve as an educational facility and holistic health clinic. She loves to dance, travel, make raw vegan pies, hug, and be enchanted by life.


Kari Risher came to the PCC program from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, where, as a space systems engineer, she worked on strategic plans and designs for satellite missions that observed the Earth from space. The mystical passion that drove her to the examination of the universe and Earth's role within it through space exploration also fed her spiritual pursuits, such as working at Het Franciscaans Milieuproject, an ecospiritual monastery in the Netherlands, organic farm stays, spiritual pilgrimages to ashrams and monasteries in India and France, and social justice work in Swaziland, India, and Bangladesh. The PCC program has helped Kari to join science and spirituality, and has provided her with the language she has needed to speak in her native tongue as a mystic. Kari looks forward to continuing to develop a holistic paradigm through poetry, folk music, children's stories, and metaphysical research on time and the relationship between spiritual and material realms. She is currently working with Matthew Fox on "The Cosmic Mass."

Prior to coming to PCC, Michael Babel (MA, 2009) was living the busy life of a performing artist, massage therapist, and volunteer first responder in international disaster relief. Since graduating from PCC he is finishing his first book in the field of non-traditional relationships called Conscious Love, Radical Monogamy, and Other Unusual Relationships.  He has also conceived a charity organization called Life Grant that helps people move on from embedded life circumstances. He is finishing a Life Coaching training program, voraciously studying Spanish, and continuing to do disaster relief work around the world with a group called All Hands, most recently spending a good deal of time in Haiti. PCC was most effective in helping him realize how radically interrelated all of life is, and therefore how important our actions are.  "If all happenings are a step in the evolution of consciousness," he says, "then we are living in crucial times where our choices as individuals matter greatly.  PCC is academically rigorous, radically open and imaginative in approach, and a profoundly loving community that wants nothing less than to come together and save the world."

Jamie Socci (MA, 2012) found herself dissatisfied with her job as a manager and customer service trainer for retail stores in New England. The Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program represented not only the opportunity to further her education and change careers, but also offered the chance to learn as a form of self-transformation. While in school she maintained a foothold in the business world by working as a branding consultant for small well-being companies in the Bay area. Among the most important experiences she had in PCC was her work as a research assistant to Robert McDermott and as the co-facilitator of the CIIS student group “The Forum on Transdisciplinary Studies” (now the PCC Forum). After finishing her coursework, she relocated to Big Sur, California, where she currently works as the Executive Assistant for the CEO of Esalen Institute. Reflecting on her experience, Jamie said, "PCC is not merely an education. For me it is a place where the veil of life lifts, even if only a little, and in addition to a diploma one earns a new set of eyes with which to behold the beauty of the universe."

Francesca Po (MA, 2010) is currently a graduate student in theology and religious studies at the University of Oxford.  The working title of her dissertation is “After ‘Spirituality’: An Emerging Common Worldview Among the Religious, New Age, and Unchurched Generation Y in Britain and America”, a study that combines the fields of sociology and integral studies.  Prior to acquiring an MA from PCC, she received her BA at UC Berkeley in religious studies and music, served in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, and worked as a philosophy and religious studies high school teacher. Francesca says, "PCC has affected my life in infinite ways. As far as my academic and spiritual career goes, they are inseparable—I believe in the evolution of consciousness, and am passionate about living my being in such a way that is in continuous development, inspired by an enchanted interdependent reality". Click here to visit Francesca's blog.


Elizabeth McAnally is studying in the Integral Ecology track in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program. She works for the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale as a newsletter editor and web content manager. She has taught classes on philosophy, religion, ecology, and taiji at Pacifica Graduate Institute, the University of North Texas, Diablo Valley College, the University of San Francisco, and CIIS. Her research focuses on water at the intersection of religion and ecology. Elizabeth is also an avid musician and enjoys singing and playing the flute, piano, and bass guitar. Vist Elizabeth's Taiji website

Matthew David Segall, MA graduate from the PCC program (2010), is now working on a PhD. His doctoral research is focused primarily on the role of imagination in the philosophical integration of scientific theory and religious myth. His undergraduate work was in cognitive science at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of On the Matter of Life: Towards an Integral Biology of Economics (2011), "Logos of a Living Earth: Towards a New Marriage of Science and Myth for Our Planetary Future" in World Futures, Vol. 68 (2012), and blogs regularly at


PCC alumni are active locally and internationally, bringing a new perspective to many different areas. Several alumni are now teaching in higher education, many have published books since graduating, and some are continuing in their original careers, practically applying the insights gained from their scholarly research.

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens (PhD, 2005) is codirector and a founding member of the Integral Ecology Center of Integral University and has been doing research in environmental philosophy and sustainable development for more than a decade.

Sean is also an assistant professor at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA, where he teaches courses in consciousness, culture, and ecology. Sean's articles have appeared in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, Journal of Bhutan Studies, World Futures, and AQAL: Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.

He is also one of the editors (along with his wife, Vipassana Esbjörn-Hargens), of Ken Wilber's recent book Simple Feeling of Being. He is currently collaborating with Michael Zimmerman on the book Integral Ecology: Consciousness, Culture, Nature. Visit Sean's website

Karen Chen (PhD, 2012) began her life before PCC as an aspiring astronomer-turned-sociologist when she discovered a knack for asking larger existential questions that could not be answered by a mainstream science education. After volunteering and working in a variety of organizational roles, she decided to forego a sense of logic and follow her inspirations—which led her to PCC. She embarked upon a voyage informed by a yearning to cultivate her highest potential as a full human being. She gleaned insights from new sciences, ancient wisdom traditions, ecofeminism, inner personal work, and new friends. PCC provided some of her greatest moments in her personal and career growth, and she now integrates what she has learned into various other projects including community work, organizing major international music festivals, and working at the forefront of ecological movements to transform our planet and our world.


Many prospective students ask us what kinds of dissertations we supervise in PCC. While there is no single answer, the following list of recent dissertations written in the PCC program can give a broad idea of the range of acceptable dissertation topics:

2014 - Marc Slavin

"The Role of Metaphor in Imaginal Psychology"

2014 - Timothy Desmond

"Psyche=Singularity : a comparison of Carl Jung's transpersonal psychology and Leonard Susskind's holographic string theory"

2014 - Blair Robert Carter

"Alchemical permaculture : polishing the mirror between land and steward"

2014 - Hiroko Shiota

"Cosmogenesis, Shinto, Tantra: Embodying the New Universe Story" 

2013 - Adrian Villasenor Galarza

"The Yoga of the Earth-Human Cosmos: Planetary Healing via an Elemental Typology of Ecopsychic Ailments"

2012 - Drew Dellinger
"The Mountaintop Vision: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Cosmology of Connection"

2012 - Jeff Jenkins

"EcoZoic NeoNative Wisdom: Indigenous Cosmological Ritual and the Story of the Universe"

2012 - Karen Chen

"Rethinking Community Preparedness: A Relational Approach to Self-Reliance"

2012 - Frank Poletti

"The Neptunian Awakening: An Archetypal Interpretation of the Cultural Trends in the Nineteenth Century"

2011 - Josefina Burgos

"Story as Embodied Philosophy: A Tool for Cultural Transformation" 

2010 - Kerri Welch
"A Fractal Topology of Time: Implications for Consciousness and Cosmology"

2009 - Keiron Le Grice
"Foundations of an Archetypal Cosmology: A Theoretical Synthesis of Jungian Depth Psychology and the New Paradigm Sciences"

2009 - Scott Hill
"A Jungian Framework for Understanding Psychedelic-Induced Psychotic States"

2009 - John Taylor
"The Hidden Spark of Hasidism in Martin Buber's Philosophy of Dialogue"

2008 - Regula Wegmann
"Eco-Sophie: Thinking and Knowing in Dynamic Harmony With the Ways of Nature"

2008 - Rodney O’Neal
"Seasons of Agony and Grace: An Archetypal History of New England Puritanism"

2008 - Luan Makes Marks
"Natures of the Sacred: On Native North American Lands and Places"

2007 - Linda Jaye Gibler
"Cosmocentric Sacramentality: Water, Oil, and Fire in the Roman Catholic Celebration of Baptism"

2005 - Sean Esbjörn-Hargens
"Integral Ecology: A Post-Metaphysical Approach to Environmental Phenomena