Educating the "More" in Holistic Transpersonal Higher Education: A 30+ Year Perspective on the Approach of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Braud, William, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology
ABSTRACT: This article describes a holistic and transpersonal approach to higher education and presents the graduate psychology programs and practices of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) as an illustrative example of this approach, given its 30+ year history. The article describes ITP's transpersonal and whole-person focus, its experiential learning emphases, its foundational principles and their implementations, a unique six-facet project for assessing students' transpersonal qualities and transformative changes, and the use of internal and external evidential indicators of its educational effectiveness. The article also addresses issues of transpersonal assessment and research and presents a variety of views of transformative change and spirituality that are relevant to transpersonal psychology. This discussion is useful to anyone wishing to understand how experiential and transpersonal principles and practices might be applied in higher education in order to more effectively foster and serve the full range of human capabilities and potentials-treated in terms of the "More" described by William James.
The object of education is to bring out the best and highest powers in [those being] educated. Do we, in our education, even attempt to bring out the best and highest powers of the spirit, as we seek to develop those of the body and the mind? . . . The mischief is that whatever our theoretic beliefs, we do not in practice really regard spirit as the chief element of our being; the chief object of our educational care . . . It is the whole self which is called to turn towards Divine Reality . . . not some supposed "spiritual" part thereof. (Evelyn Underhill, 1920/1960, pp. 87, 88, 101)
This article addresses the nature of holistic transpersonal education, focusing particularly on graduate education and on the approach of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (Palo Alto, California, U.S.A.), with its overarching and overlapping emphases on transpersonal studies and experiences and on experiential and whole-person learning. The approach's rationale, implementation, and methods of evaluating its educational effectiveness are considered. For purposes of this article an approach can be considered a form of transpersonal education if either its intention or practice yields experiences or understandings consistent with the construct transpersonal, as defined and elaborated below. Transpersonal education can involve transpersonal content or a transpersonal approach or stance; ideally, both content and stance would be present. It addresses material that can be considered spiritual as well as material relevant to the existence and importance of that which is other than, or more than, the typically conceived self. It aims to confront and apprehend the whole of what is studied by means of the whole being of the student; its approach or stance is holistic, inclusive, integrated. It emphasizes and values the continued growth, development, and transformation of the student.
PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE AND WHY ITP?
The chief purpose of this article is to describe some of the essential features of holistic, experiential, and transpersonal education, and to provide a concrete example of how these features have been applied in the context of higher education. The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) was chosen as an illustrative example because of its long (over 30 years) and successful history in implementing these principles, and because-although an increasing number of schools now are providing transpersonal offerings-ITP remains the only accredited institution of higher learning that offers a doctoral degree in transpersonal psychology. This example is offered for readers who might wish to understand one way in which transpersonal psychology graduate education has been designed and operationalized successfully. This information may be useful to those who wish to develop similar implementations or devise their own variations on the themes presented herein. …