Curriculum

The online doctoral program in Transformative Studies consists of a minimum of 36-semester units (two years of full-time coursework) plus a dissertation. During the two years of coursework, all students meet, either in person or virtually twice per year, once in August and once in January. For in-person Intensives, students and the faculty gather at a retreat setting in the San Francisco Bay Area. Virtual Intensives takes place on a virtual platform like Zoom. Participation in all the Intensives is mandatory.

The program includes 21 units of foundations courses and 9 units of electives, which may be taken from both Transformative Leadership and Transformative Studies programs. 

Coursework concludes with two comprehensive exams in essay form: One addresses the knowledge base of the student's area of inquiry; the other addresses the chosen research methodology for the student's dissertation.

PhD in Transformative Studies

Required Courses - 21.4 Units

1st semester (fall)

  • TSD 6001 Online Intensive I (.1 Unit)
  • TSD 8005 Introduction to Transformative Studies (3 Units)
  • TSD 8125 Creative Inquiry: Scholarship for the 21st Century (3 Units)
  • TSD 8210 Self, Society, and Transformation (3 Units)

2nd semester (spring)

  • TSD 6002 Online Intensive II (.1 Unit)
  • TSD 8130 Transdisciplinarity: Complex Thought and the Pattern That Connects (3 Units)
  • TSD 8215 Varieties of Scholarly Experience (3 Units)

3rd semester (fall)

  • TSD 6003 Online Intensive III (.1 Unit)
  • TSD 6526 The Ecology of Ideas (3 Units)
  • TSD ____ Directed Research Course (3 Units)

4th semester (spring)

  • TSD 6004 Online Intensive IV (.1 Unit)

Comprehensive Exams - 6 Units

  • TSD 9610 Essay--Dissertation Literature Review (3 Units)
  • TSD 9611 Essay--Dissertation Research Methodology (3 Units)

Electives - 9 Units

  • Electives (9 Units)

Total units for the degree coursework: 36.4


Dissertation Proposal 

  • TSD 6900 Dissertation Proposal Completion (.1 Unit per semester and up to 4 semesters to complete)

Dissertation 

  • TSD 7900 Dissertation Writing (.1 Unit per semester and up to 8 semesters to complete)

Course Descriptions

Descriptions for the required courses in the Transformative Studies Ph.D. program.

Transformative Studies Course Descriptions

TSD 8005 Introduction to Transformative Studies (3 Units) This course addresses the relationship between academic inquiry and personal transformation, as well as the transformation of inquiry. Applying insights from Jungian, feminist, and complexity theories, we will explore what it means to be a scholar in the 21st century, the role of the inquirer in every inquiry, how psychological factors and gender influence what and how we inquire, and the importance of developing a strong foundation in scholarship to do creative work; and we will apply insights from global social theories including, but not limited to, feminist and gender studies, intersectionality, class, race, and sexual orientation. This course will also explore the implications of systems/complexity theories for our understandings of knowledge in the context of global transformation and the problematization of knowledge. Prerequisite: TSD student

TSD 8125 Creative Inquiry: Scholarship for the 21st Century (3 Units) This course provides an introduction to research as a creative and transformative process. It will address issues such as the relationship between the academic and the transformative; what it means to be a scholar in the 21st century; how to get in touch with one’s research passion and integrate it into one’s coursework; how to think about research in a way that integrates personal reflection and personal growth with solid, grounded scholarship in an academic context; what the role of the literature review is and how to approach it; and how to develop one’s academic voice. The knowledge base is drawn from the philosophy of social science, educational and developmental psychology, creativity research, complexity, and inter- and transdisciplinarity theories and research. Prerequisite: TSD student

TSD 8210 Self, Society, and Transformation (3 Units) This course examines the relationship between self and society in a planetary context. It will address the nature of interconnectedness, examine new ways of understanding our planetary predicament, and introduce interpretive frameworks from the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of social change, and the study of cultures. Throughout the course, students will be invited to look at their own research inquiry through these particular lenses. Prerequisite: TSD student

TSD 8130 Transdisciplinarity: Complex Thought and the Pattern That Connects (3 Units) It is becoming increasingly clear that complex issues often cannot be addressed from the perspective of a single discipline. This course focuses on how research is conducted across disciplines. We will briefly explore the history of disciplines and inter- and transdisciplinarity and study a number of exemplars that draw from disparate disciplines to assess a variety of possible strategies. How can we learn to think across disciplines in a way that is inquiry-based, when we have been taught to think inside our disciplinary silos? Topics include how to develop a knowledge base for transdisciplinary research; how to research, review, and integrate perspectives from different sources relevant for the student’s research topic; how to develop a solid understanding of the dominant discourse(s) in one’s area of inquiry and address its limitations; and how to develop a theoretical framework for inquiry. The course will also cover how to integrate the knower in the known—how to reflect on how who we are and our values, assumptions, and blind spots play a role in our inquiry, and explore theoretical dissertations—what they’re about, why someone would choose to do one, and the challenges and opportunities of theoretical research. Students will be able to ground all the work in this class in their chosen areas of inquiry. Prerequisites: TSD student; TSD 8005, TSD 8125.

TSD 8210 Self, Society, and Transformation (3 Units) This course examines the relationship between self and society in a planetary context. It will address the nature of interconnectedness, examine new ways of understanding our planetary predicament, and introduce interpretive frameworks from the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of social change, and the study of cultures. Throughout the course, students will be invited to look at their own research inquiry through these particular lenses. Prerequisite: TSD student.

TSD 8215 Varieties of Scholarly Experience (3 Units) This course provides (a) an overview of the epistemological and ontological foundations of research, (b) a survey of research methods, and (c) the basics of research design. As received meanings about research are continually being challenged and expanded, what can epistemological and methodological diversity offer? In our search for answers, we focus on the ethical role of the researcher in the context of transformative paradigms. Students will examine the social relevance and specific impact of their research as they begin to frame their own inquiry and identify appropriate methodology.

TSD 6526 The Ecology of Ideas (3 Units) All inquiry is situated in an “ecology of ideas,” which is to say the literature for a dissertation, including scholarly articles, books, essays, and /or cultural artifacts. This course supports students as they identify, evaluate, and orient themselves within all this dissertation literature. The course explores the nature and role of theory in any inquiry. Finally, it prepares students to develop and articulate their own stance and theoretical orientation for any type of dissertation, whether it be qualitative, theoretical, or arts-based. Prerequisites: TSD student; TSD 8130, TSD 8215.

TSD 9610 Comprehensive Exam: Essay—Dissertation Literature Review (3 Units) This course focuses on writing a literature review for the student’s dissertation. This literature review must be written in such a way that it can be submitted as a publishable article to a journal relevant to the student’s interest area. Prerequisites: TSD student; TSD 6526, TSD 8210, TSD Directed Research.

TSD 9611 Comprehensive Exam: Essay—Dissertation Research Methodology (3 Units) The second comprehensive exam outlines and articulates the methodology that the student will use for the dissertation or equivalent. As well as showing how the student intends to apply the methodology, the paper must, among other things, explain why this particular methodology was chosen, where it is situated in the broad spectrum of available methodologies, and what its limitations are. Prerequisites: TSD student; TSD 6526, TSD 8210, TSD Directed Research.

Consciousness Studies Focus

To learn more about the Consciousness Studies specialization in the Transformative Studies Ph.D. program please visit the Consciousness Studies Focus page.

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