Partnership Studies Focus

"We are quite literally partners in our own evolution." (Eisler, 1995, xiv)

Click the links below to be taken directly to a section:

About the Partnership Studies Focus
Build a Career and Earn a Graduate Degree in Partnership Online
Students Testimonials
Faculty Testimonials
Transformative Leadership MA Application Requirements
Course of Study
Samples of Relevant Partnership Electives
Learn More

About the Partnership Studies Focus

The Transformative Leadership MA at the California Institute of Integral Studies offers a Partnership Studies focus. Based on Cultural Transformation Theory, and developed by award-winning cultural historian and systems scientist Riane Eisler, this focus is designed for leaders who want to be groundbreakers in the application of this far-reaching theory to issues they are passionate about.

Students in this focus have the opportunity to study cultural transformation theory directly from Riane Eisler herself. Eisler's theory provides a dynamic to leadership studies that is uniquely relevant in today's world. As part of a larger community of students, faculty and alumni in the Transformative Leadership Masters Program at CIIS, students will put partnership theory into action and learn by doing.

Students choosing to take this focus will take a minimum of two of their elective courses with an explicit focus on implications and applications of Partnership Studies, and will design and complete a culminating Capstone Action project.

Build a Career and Earn a Graduate Degree in Partnership Online

No matter where you live, you can now enroll in the online graduate program in Partnership Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). Or you can simply take a class, studying with Riane Eisler and Masters and PhD students from around the globe. We invite you to join our community of individuals dedicated to leadership that is transformative, inclusive and sustainable!

Introductory courses start with workshop intensives with Dr. Eisler and Dr. Susan Carter at the beautiful Pacifica resort on the California coast in August and January.

This is an innovative program for those who are serious about making a difference in their lives, organizations, and the world. Students work in a community of likeminded individuals, build a curriculum around their calling and passion, and develop skills to make their visions realities.

Our students can apply to intern with the Center for Partnership Studies or other change-making, nonprofit organizations. Imagine a career in Partnership! Join us!


For more information, download these articles describing the Partnership approach to Leadership:

Partnership Organization (PDF)
Technology Domination Partnership (PDF)
The Meaning Of Partnership

Related sites:


Listen to Riane Eisler's interview with Dep't Chair Alfonso Montuori on Women's Radio

Student Testimonials

"As an activist and community leader, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to study such powerful, transformational theories as addressed in this class. Studying directly with Riane Eisler is an incredible honor and a profound experience. This class is a must for anyone with a penchant for leadership, politics and change."

Heidi L. Sieck, San Francisco
City and County of San Francisco, Disaster Response Program; Co-Chair, San Francisco Women's Policy Summit; Chair, Brava! Theater for Women in Arts

"In addition to gaining greater clarity into how global change can actually be achieved, studying Partnership is peeling away yet another layer of understanding into how my thoughts, words, and actions impact others. This practice, and the trust it is helping me build with others, is proving critical as I gain greater access to levers of change in the middle of my social justice career. By immersing myself in Partnership Studies at CIIS, I am confident that I am addressing the root cause of global injustice and that my passion for global change is rooted in academic rigor, but also that my pursuit is tempered with the challenge of personal humility. The doors that have opened both personally and professionally have been positively life changing!"

Chris Thomas, San Francisco
Nonprofit Management Consultant, Activist, and Filmmaker

"I decided to take the Partnership concentration to provide focus for my MA degree in transformative leadership. I would like to use the tools and knowledge I am gaining to step back into the role of activist, revitalizing my career in nonprofit leadership. Through the partnership approach, I have explored my voice in the world, how I use it and how I hold back when it becomes awkward and difficult. I now have a better understanding of individual action toward the collective problems we face in the world today. And I recognize how these problems affect all of us, men and women, in the U.S. and abroad. The exciting thing for me is to explore how the academic study of partnership aligns with action. To study and directly apply the new knowledge has changed the way I think about economics, the environment and human relationships."

Kathleen Hermes, Kansas City, MO
Masters Student in the Transformative Leadership Program, Partnership Studies Concentration, CIIS

"The Partnership concentration is proving to be the most worthwhile and transformative educational opportunity I've encountered. It presents practical, accessible and holistic solutions to the most urgent challenges and myriad problems we face on a personal, interpersonal, national and global scale. I am excited to continue growing with this material and using it throughout my life - enabling me to be an even more effective leader and the best social change agent I can be."

Elisa Audo, Berkeley, CA
Doctoral Student in Transformative Studies, CIIS

"The power of Partnership has impacted my life. It has affirmed what I have known for a long time. For years I have spoken of these issues privately with like minded friends. I had hoped that someone in power would see the light, so to speak. Now I know that we must gather and inhabit this reality in an empowering way. Power of Partnership has given me tools to use in order to manifest this model into daily life. It is by coming together and being attentive to our work that we can articulate and model the partnership path. I am hopeful and confident in this message."

Susan Lamberson, Three Rivers, CA
Masters student in the Transformative Leadership program, Partnership Studies concentration

Faculty Testimonials

"I am excited by this new degree. I love interacting with the wonderful students, and helping to develop leaders who create a partnership future."

Riane Eisler
President, Center for Partnership Studies; author of The Chalice and The Blade, The Real Wealth of Nations, and other works

"One of the joys of this graduate work for students is the opportunity to directly apply academic studies to daily life and to be an active agent for positive social change. I am delighted to support and further partnership in action across the country (and around the world) and co-teach with Riane Eisler through the Transformative Leadership Master's program!"

Susan G. Carter, PhD
Associate Professor (Adjunct), The California Institute of Integral Studies

Read about other Transformative Leadership Program faculty>>

Admission to the Transformatuve Leadership Program and the Partnership Studies Focus

The program is designed for passionate, self-directed individuals who have an interest both in social-organizational and personal transformation. Successful applicants are self-motivated, self-reflective, collaborative, and willing to challenge their own and societal assumptions about human possibilities.

Students must have consistent access to a computer with the capacity to navigate the Internet and World Wide Web, and they must be able to use the online medium for ongoing dialogue.

Transformative Leadership MA Application Requirements

In addition to meeting CIIS's general admission requirements, applicants for the master's program must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants must also submit the following:

  • Official transcripts from all previously attended universities or colleges
  • A one-to-two page goal statement
  • A four-to-six page autobiographical essay
  • An academic writing sample that demonstrates the applicant's ability to think critically and reflectively
  • Résumé
  • Two letters of recommendation.

Qualified applicants must also successfully participate in an interview process with faculty.

Course of Study

I. The Power of Partnership
In this course students are invited to explore the foundational concepts of Riane Eisler's Cultural Transformation Theory and the Partnership/Domination template in both theory and practice, and will be co-taught by Riane Eisler and Susan Carter. Together as a learning community we will engage in a deep exploration of the significance of these models and the systems informed by them, as well as their practical application to our daily life and work. We will address questions such as: How might we shift to a new framing of how we think about human societies and our collective beliefs, behaviors, and policies? How would our worldview be different if we were to change the lens through which we view ourselves and those with whom we inhabit our world? What invisible configurations might become visible? How might these concepts be put into action for positive social change? How can you become an effective partnership leader?

The emphasis of the course is on developing a thorough understanding of the theoretical dimensions and transformational possibilities of Partnership through ongoing application and self-exploration/reflection.

The course will start with an intensive residential workshop on the partnership model facilitated by Riane Eisler and Susan Carter. This will be followed by the ongoing online discussion with study groups, and regularly scheduled online discussion between faculty and class members.

II. Capstone Action Research Project
This course will be taught by Dan Crowe in conjunction with the Partnership Concentration Advisor. This will be the capstone project that students will implement using the partnership model. With consultation with faculty students will design a project to demonstrate the use of the partnership model in an organizational context. This might include an internship or consultancy project.

Samples of Relevant Partnership Electives

Partnership in Action
Through direct application of the partnership model, this course offers students the opportunity to put their understanding of partnership and related Transformative Leadership/Partnership Studies curriculum into greater practice in the larger community. Students may choose from possible projects and associations with nonprofit and community organizations where a relationship with the Transformative Studies concentration has been established (such as The Center for Partnership Studies) or, with instructor's approval, may design a project of their own choosing.

Women's Leadership-in-Action
This course explores the various models of leadership women are creating, nationally and internationally, to transform our collective social worlds. Through developing case studies of women's leadership within our communities we will generate a range of images and definitions based upon women's-leadership-in action.

Spirit, Compassion, and Community Activism

Through selective readings, class discussion, and personal reflection, this course encourages students to put their spiritual values and beliefs into action in the larger community. The course is offered for 1-3 units with each academic unit requiring 30 hours of community service. Students can choose to serve in established organizations or create their own project with instructor approval.

Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Creating a Caring Economics
In light of worldwide economic uncertainties and expanding globalization in the current exchange economy, it can be challenging to determine how we can participate in ways that are in alignment with our personal values while also supporting ourselves. How might we bring about change in our economic system to value the often invisible work of nurture and caring? Are there ways to augment our income while also benefiting society? How can we come from a place of abundance instead of scarcity in our day-to-day lives, and bring forth energies to actualize a much needed paradigm shift for cultural transformation?

In this seminar course we will explore our attitudes about and approaches to money/economics, partnership, and spirituality, and look to established and emerging ideas about economic systems which might address these questions. We will investigate alternative approaches to our current economic system, such as creating a caring economics (as discussed in Riane Eisler's The Real Wealth of Nations), barter bucks and alternative currency systems, voluntary simplicity and the idea of how much is enough, LETSystems, sustainable communities, the gift economy, micro-lending, etc. While we will touch upon most of these (and perhaps more) in this survey course, students may choose to explore several systems in particular and compare them or one system in greater depth (with instructor approval) for their final paper/project. Projects incorporating practical application of systems studied will be greatly encouraged.

Power, Influence and Responsibility

The power invested in leadership, power arrangements within systems, and the play of power and influence within and between social groups all show up in different ways. Through selective historical and contemporary examples, students will explore the ways power has been conceptualized over time in both east and west by important thinkers who closely studied both power and the various ways it has been used.

This course concentrates on the relationships between power, influence, and responsibility, and how these might be applied to transformative leadership in the world today.

Learn More

For further Information please contact:

Justin Tisdale, Admissions Counselor
(415) 575-6246

Alfonso Montuori, PhD, Chair of Department of Transformative Inquiry