Program Structure

Each student entering the program will have an academic plan outlining your transfer units, degree requirements, and your courses for the year, so that you know exactly when you will be graduating. Students need a minimum of 60 transfer units in order to be admitted to the program, and generally complete the program in 3 to 4 semesters (depending upon the number of transfer units). The academic plan ensures that you are guaranteed access to the courses you need to take in order to graduate on time and lock in the tuition rate.

All students in the program engage in a core curriculum that consists of in-person class meetings on 6 weekends per semester (Friday evenings and all-day Saturdays) and online learning via an online learning platform, which allows students to continue their learning, collaboration, and discussions between in-person meetings.

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum is comprised of a three-semester sequence of courses that build on each other. Students are exposed to particular themes and critical frameworks that enable them to build intellectual and practical skills and to examine themselves and their relationship to the world. In the three semester sequence, students remain with the same group of students, a group of peers called a cohort, building relationships and collaborating on co-creating knowledge.

The core curriculum follows this sequence:

Semester Core Curriculum (36 units) Units
1st Semester BIS 1211 Self and Society (4 units)
BIS 1212 Integral Learning (4 units)
BIS 1213 Modern Perspectives (4 units)
2nd Semester BIS 1221 Culture and Community (4 units)
BIS 1222 Knowledge and Inquiry (4 units)
BIS 1223 Research and Writing (4 units)
3rd Semester BIS 1231 Global Studies (4 units)
BIS 1232 Social Change (4 units)
BIS 1233 Senior Project (4 units)

Each semester's themes are taught from an interrelated and interdisciplinary perspective. A faculty team facilitates the students' learning and brings in different disciplinary perspectives. The specific curriculum evolves each semester according to our students, faculty, contemporary culture, and emerging scholarship.

Below is a sample of select themes within the core curriculum:

Semester 1

A central theme to semester one is Self and Society. From a working hypothesis that the "self" is the product of complex interactions between individuals and their social, physical, cultural, and spiritual environments, we examine current models of selfhood and the ways that students and individuals at large construct an "I" (or perhaps, many "I's"). In this semester, students explore the concept of self-both theoretically and personally. Drawing on such thinkers as Haridas Chaudhuri, Paulo Freire, and bell hooks, we also examine the role of the self in the process of learning. Students also become aware of their relationship to learning and get the chance to "unlearn" what prevents their growth and development.

Semester 2

In semester two, students examine the formation of Culture and Community. This curriculum considers the ways in which culture describes and defines our relation to the world around us. We ask students to engage, define, and describe a culture, and to examine the value and limits of this kind of inquiry. In exploring culture, students may read texts from writers such as Ruth Behar and Linda Tuhiwai Smith. In relation to community, we explore questions such as: What are the parameters that define or delineate a community? How do groups of people identify, gather, and collect to create a sense of belonging? How do communities work through tension, conflict, or dynamic exchange? Students approach this inquiry by considering both their larger community and the community of their cohort.

Semester 3

In semester three, students explore the intersection between Global Studies, and personal responsibility and social change. The curriculum folds social change movements, paradigms of violence and nonviolence, and the role of compassion and grief, into the study of war, peace, globalization, and ecology. For example, students may examine models of conflict- transformation and draw upon readings from Bishop Desmond Tutu, Pumla Madikaleza-Godobo, Howard Zehr, Kay Pranis, and James Gilligan. In addition, in this semester students will work on their senior project. The senior project gives students the opportunity to produce a body of work (writing, images, movement, music, scholarship or experiential and/or service-based endeavor) that deepens your inquiry and pushes the boundaries of your particular academic, activist, or creative interests.

Electives and General Education Courses

Students entering the program with less than 84 transfer units and/or with general education requirements unmet will need to take elective and/or general education courses to complete their degree. Students can opt to take their elective courses either in the School of Undergraduate Studies, in select graduate courses offered in the School of Consciousness and Transformation, or through public program workshops offered for academic credit.

Elective and general education courses in the School of Undergraduate Studies complement the core curriculum, and speak to the students' own interests in disciplines such as psychology, writing, ecology and environment, and visual and creative thinking. These are offered in conjunction with the cohort weekend and on alternate weekends, enabling distance students and local students to structure their course load in the most advantageous way possible.

Course descriptions for the core curriculum, elective, and general education courses can be found in the Academic Catalog.

Minor in Critical Psychology

Since Fall 2011, the program offers students a chance to pursue studies in critical psychology. Students who wish to deepen their studies and skills in this area have the option of selecting a minor in Critical Psychology.

The following are sample works students engage in over the course of the year:

Reflective Essays
Critical Academic Essays
Autobiographical Project (Body Drawing)
Small Group Projects
Integrative Project
Ecology Art Box

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