Our program's online MA aims to inspire thoughtful action by emphasizing the importance of linking theoretical reflection on world views to practical intervention in the world. Our program offers students a rigorous, supportive, and transdisciplinary learning community in which to find their voice and vision as leaders. Unlike many graduate programs in philosophy where faculty are seldom accessible to students and an atmosphere of criticism and competition dominates, our faculty strive to provide genuine mentorship to students and to maintain a learning environment that balances scholarly rigor with encouragement for each student's unique strengths and value commitments.

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The online MA requires of 36 units of online coursework and participation in three four-day on-campus intensives. All intensives take place at the main campus of California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA. The intensives include initial class sessions for the courses offered that semester; research methods classes; skill-building modules to help students develop their scholarly voice, writing, and online networking abilities; advising sesions with faculty; and a variety of community-building opportunities.

Program Learning Outcomes

Our 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 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.

Integral Ecology Track

This 36-unit MA allows students to study the complex character of the Earth community, the factors that threaten it, and possibilities for a better way forward. Students will explore vital links between ecology and fields including philosophy, religion, psychology, and cosmology, and will learn strategies for building a regenerative and ecologically just future among a community of planetary citizens.

The gravity and complexity of the global ecological crisis calls for an integral approach to ecology, one that broadens and deepens the study of ecology through active engagement with the humanities and social sciences. An integral ecology must draw from a whole spectrum of human inquiry, from the sciences (human, social, and natural), from the world's spiritual traditions (Asian, Western, and indigenous), and from collective wisdom and the insights of individual experience. 

The Integral Ecology track focuses on ecology in the context of a multi- and trans-disciplinary vision, central to which is the recognition that one of the key factors determining the health of the Earth's biosphere is the behavior of human beings, and therefore many of the most important issues in the study of a truly integral ecology lie in the areas of human thought, psychology, and culture. The search for solutions to ecological problems must include as a core concern the transformation of human conceptual, psychological, and cultural patterns that have become an imminent danger to the health of the entire Earth community, and the cultivation of new structures of human experience and action that are more harmoniously aligned with the natural world and the larger cosmic order within which we dwell. That said, part of task of transforming the human to meet the challenges of the ecological crisis will require becoming re-attuned to the needs and values of the non-human community of life on this planet. The integral ecology track therefore also enters into conversation with deep ecological perspectives that recognize the intrinsic value of every member of the Earth community and remains open to learning from non-humans about how our species might less destructively inhabit this planet.

Who Should Choose the Integral Ecology Track?

Students who choose the track in integral ecology may be established or aspiring scholar-activists and policy makers seeking a deeper understanding of the causes of the ecological crisis and viable pathways forward for addressing it. Program graduates who focused on integral ecology have developed pathways forward including documentary films (e.g., "The Call of Life" and, more recently, "The Future of Energy", undergraduate curricula, and local ecological activism (including permaculture initiatives and work with Interfaith Power and Light). The integral ecology track also includes a practicum seminar called "Touch the Earth" that invites students to work with and learn from environmental organizations in their local community (either as volunteers or paid interns)

Course of Study for the Integral Ecology Track

I. Residential Intensives--0 units 

Student are required to participate in three intensives at CIIS in San Francisco. The first two intensives occur at the start of each Fall semester in late August; the third intensive takes place at the end of the final Spring semester in mid-May.

Intensive I (Fall)
Intensive II (Fall)
Intensive III (Spring)

II. Introductory Course—3 units

  • Introduction to Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness

III. Integral Ecology—15 units

1. Foundations (choose 6 units)

  • Philosophy and Ecology: Toward a Green Metaphysics, Phenomenology, and Epistemology 
  • Integral Ecologies
  • Toward an Integral Ecological Consciousness

2. Practicum (3 units, optional)

  • Touch the Earth

3. Applications (choose 6–9 units)

  • Cosmological Powers
  • Merleau-Ponty: The Body and the Earth
  • Next of Kin: Perspectives on Animal Ethics and Biodiversity 
  • Plants and People: Understanding the Plant World Through Relationship
  • Mind and Nature in German Idealism
  • Judaism and Ecology: Visions, Voices, and Practices (1 unit)
  • Spirit and Nature
  • The Great Turning 
  • Science, Ecology, and Contested Knowledge(s)
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Christianity and Ecology 
  • Buddhism and Ecology 
  • Earth Law: Toward a Flourishing Earth Community (1 unit)
  • Earth Law in Praxis (1 unit) 
  • Integral Gaia
  • Ecologies of Liberation
  • Integral Permaculture (1 unit)
  • The Earth Journey
  • Nature and Eros

IV. General Electives—15 units

  • Choose 15 units from our program's courses or from any CIIS program offering online courses.

V. Culminating Coursework—3 units

  • Integrative Seminar

VI. Optional Thesis—0 units

  • Advisor approval required.

Course Descriptions

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