Several months ago, as I was deciding whether or not to move forward with my application to the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) for their Ph.D. Program - Transformative Studies, my mom recommended this book, the New Republic of the Heart. While in general, I could probably talk about an integral perspective, it’s not a topic or understanding that I have fully fleshed out. While this book is not just really about the integral perspective, it describes things from that perspective. So she shared the audiobook with me. I listened to the first 75% of the book pretty quickly, but I knew I wanted to write about the book as well. Life was pretty hectic, and I was also in the middle of making the move to have my content in this website format (I’m pretty happy with the move so far… although I’m still pretty sure eventually it might bite me in the butt).
Basically, I haven’t been exposed very much to a specific viewpoint on transdisciplinary work or even work that integral in nature. My experience in social work, and especially coming from a more generalist perspective, has given me some good foundation looking at how we use the scientific method to determine the work we do. Furthermore, my mostly eclectic practice style lends itself pretty well to trying to integrate those perspectives into a bigger understanding. With social work, especially from a mezzo and macro perspective being able to connect and understand other disciplines is a vital skill. I’m sure in the future I’ll write more about these topics, but it seems to be a pretty great connection.
I am really and truly excited about moving forward with my Ph.D. and completing my studies at CIIS. That being said, there is always that fear that is there. I know a number of people that are ABD (All But Dissertation - meaning they didn’t finish their doctoral programs). College is expensive (I’m still paying on my loans for my MSW) and I have to figure out again how to balance family/ school / work / and life.
Especially as I was initially considering CIIS, I was worried about the program and what my degree should be in. Is this the right program, is this the direction I should be going in, what’s the best course of action. Not only in general about what the program is, but about the Transformative Studies program specifically. Could it be that it is a bit too “‘Hippyish.” I sat in on a zoom meeting with some of the faculty and prospective students and when they were talking about the dissertations that people completed, two of the examples were around ayahuasca. Really it’s not that I have a problem with ayahuasca or for that matter studies using hallucinogens for medical purposes (it’s fascinating and there is quite a bit of literature around the topic). If you are interested, you can read my blog post New Experiences and Broken Things, where when I was in the Peruvian jungle I went through an ayahuasca ceremony with some shamen. My hesitation was more around if they are a bit too much on the scientific fringe.
I don’t know exactly what I want my dissertation to be on, but my current school of thought is around trauma and kids. I talked to my advisor about this as I did my admissions interview, and they thought it sounded like a very viable option. Really, it was like I was as I was going through this minor existential crisis (I’m sure it is not the only one I will be going through), that my mom recommended this book to get some perspective on integral practice.
The book was pretty great. Like many of my book reviews, this isn’t really a comprehensive review of the book, but more some stuff that stood out to me. It’s also been a while since I listened to the majority of the book. I ended up listening to a couple of the books in the Red Queen Series books that I recently wrote about that I recently wrote about.
In general, it is a very soundly put together book that is interesting and has some pretty common-sense arguments. It is especially interesting in that he uses the kind of integral perspective and really applies it to a specific subject, that of climate change. But really, it is a pretty generalist in its thoughts and approaches.
One of the topics that I found the most interesting was the concept of the “We-Space”
“People are already spontaneously evolving a new global tribal practice by meeting in camps, seminars, group outings, and online conversations, as well as classes, conferences, and celebrations with international participants. There is an inherent systemic necessity at work: the urgent need for human maturity to guide our collective decision making. How will these global conversations evolve? One thing is clear: we will need two kinds of conversations. We need open forums that welcome new participants and draw new people into this practice of conversation. But we will refine our praxis and be personally transformed by deeper, more personal and intimate conversations in closed groups of people we can get to know. These can become communities of practice where we and our tribes can actually evolve.” (pp. 575-576 from the Apple Books version)
Having a strong community is something that I’ve always wanted to have more of and be more involved with. If you are interested at all in climate change, and really we all should be, I’d really recommend the book. You might take up some of the mantels of an advocate that is so needed in these days.