The focus of the doctoral program in Transformative Studies is to develop thought-leaders who are committed to exploring leading-edge issues in innovative ways that combine scholarship, creativity, and self-inquiry.

The program places great value on developing the ability to participate in the scholarly discourse through publication, and on the importance of viewing academic inquiry as an opportunity for personal and social transformation, while grounding transformative processes in academic depth, rigor, and imagination.

Students will:

  1. Make an original contribution in their chosen area of inquiry.

  2. Demonstrate the ability to write publishable articles and participate in the scholarly discourses of the student's chosen area of inquiry.

  3. Approach scholarship and research as a creative process and an opportunity to create themselves as scholars.

  4. Understand and apply complex thinking to inquiry.

  5. Understand the motivation and strategies for transdisciplinary research, and how it is applied in a generative way.

  6. Apply, evaluate and synthesize multiple theoretical approaches and understand the ways in which different approaches construct knowledge.

  7. Know how to find and apply pertinent knowledge, make effective use of knowledge from multiple disciplines, critically engage with their literatures and approaches to knowledge, as well as underlying assumptions and theories.

  8. Have sufficient command of research strategies and methodology to be able to apply an appropriate method to a research question and to evaluate the appropriateness of various methods in the explorations of different kinds of questions.

  9. Demonstrate the ability to be self-motivated and self-directed as well as being able to work collaboratively.


The course of study is transdisciplinary. It is inquiry driven rather than driven exclusively by the purview of a single discipline. Students develop a solid grounding in the complexities of transdisciplinary research, and creative inquiry.

Research draws on a plurality of relevant disciplines as students select and focus on a topic they are passionate about.

The program is meta-paradigmatic: Students are exposed to a plurality of perspectives and disciplines, and learn how to excavate the underlying assumptions and paradigms that inform them.

Students learn ways of inquiry that connect and contextualize in order to integrate different-even divergent-perspectives in a coherent way.

Inquiry Driven
The program stresses the role of the knower in the process of knowing. The psychology of knowledge, which addresses such issues as perception, assumptions, projection, creativity, habits of mind, error and illusion, and imagination, is considered central to the process of inquiry, as is the sociology of knowledge, which contextualizes inquiry in its social, cultural, and political milieu.

Every academic inquiry is viewed as an opportunity for and exploration of the roots and matrices of knowledge in self and society.

All inquiry is viewed as an opportunity for self-inquiry. Self-inquiry, in turn is supported by, and informs, increasing academic depth and sophistication. Students are encouraged to understand the biases, assumptions, aspirations, and emotional investment that they bring to the process of inquiry.

Academic inquiry is framed as an opportunity for personal and social transformation, as a spiritual practice, and as an opportunity to cultivate creativity.

The program stresses the interrelationship between theory and practice. As thought-leaders and action-leaders, students develop skills that allow them to participate in scholarly discourse, to write for publication, and, if they choose, to conduct action-oriented research and interventions in applicable contexts.

Graduates of the program have the opportunity to teach in a discipline related to their area of interest and to conduct action-oriented research and interventions in human systems at the individual, group, and organizational levels.

Students will also work together in Learning Community, a not-for-credit required course designed to provide an opportunity for community building, personal exchange, collaborative exploration, and reflection on the learning process and the quest for personal growth and development.

Stay Connected to CIIS