History

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A History of Innovation

The School of Psychology & Interdisciplinary Inquiry is one of four distinct Schools within Saybrook University. While the Schools are all guided by the mission and values of Saybrook University and its commitment to the humanistic tradition, each School retains its own vision, specific educational objectives, student learning outcomes, and adaptations of the Saybrook learning model that best suits educational needs. The Saybrook model of research and practice encourages the best that humanity has to offer, while also adhering to rigorous scholastic standards to study behavior and experience. By producing humanistic scholars, researchers, and practitioners, the School of Psychology & Interdisciplinary Inquiry contributes educated individuals who seek to create a better world.

The School of Psychology & Interdisciplinary Inquiry (PII) continues the degree programs and traditions of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, founded in 1971 as the Humanistic Psychology Institute under the auspices of California State University at Sonoma and directed by Sonoma State faculty member Dr. Eleanor Criswell. Its creation was inspired by the legendary meeting at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, in 1964, when the humanistic psychology movement was articulated as an alternative to mainstream psychology. Gathered at the conference was an interdisciplinary group, including leading humanistic psychologists Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Rollo May as well as scholars from other fields, such as Jacques Barzun from the humanities and Rene Dubos from the natural sciences. Their concerns focused on the narrow perspectives to understanding human experience that dominated both psychology and the other human and behavioral sciences at that time. Leading figures at the conference, such as Rollo May, James Bugental, and Clark Moustakas, served as Saybrook faculty in the early years. The founding of Saybrook reflected the basic humanistic belief expressed at the conference that human conscious activity at the individual and societal level is a work in progress for which each person and group is responsible. This vision still provides the ethical, pedagogical, and disciplinary foundation of the degree programs in the School of Psychology & Interdisciplinary Inquiry.

The School of PII continues to offer the two original degrees developed in the early 1970s: Psychology and Human Science. These two degree programs share an intellectual heritage that reaches back to the 19th century debates on appropriate ways to understand the nature, complexity, and subjectivity of being human. The Human Science degree program continues this important dialogue and poses alternate modes of inquiry essential for behavioral and social scientists who are attempting to seek a deeper understanding of the human condition. Saybrook is the only graduate school in the United States offering a degree in Human Science.

The Psychology degree programs in the School of PII are designed for individuals with interest in cutting-edge research and professional practices based on expanded definitions of development and well-being that embrace ethno-cultural diversity, the humanistic tradition, and a global perspective. Its flexible programs are well suited to individuals interested in research, teaching, health care, transformative social change, community development, consultation, mediation and conflict resolution, human resources, and advocacy, to name a few possible career paths.

Students in the master’s or doctoral degree program in Psychology or Human Science have flexibility to shape their own academic plan to reflect individual academic and professional development goals. Students in the Psychology degree program may also focus their plan of study by selecting a Specialization in Consciousness, Spirituality, & Integrative Health; Creativity Studies; Existential, Humanistic, & Transpersonal Psychology; Jungian Studies; or Transformative Social Change. This School offers graduate education that helps students expand their outlook beyond the confines of a discrete discipline. Student learning encompasses a course of study that takes them beyond traditional field-specific boundaries. Discovery that is informed by a variety of disciplines and modes of inquiry can enliven each student’s primary field of study and enrich the learning process.

Curriculum Learning Goals

The curriculum learning goals express the School’s mission and vision as overarching tenets that inform the learning objectives of degree programs, Specializations, and courses. They guide and support students in aligning their own aspirations and program goals and objectives with Saybrook’s mission. Student learning outcomes for each of the degrees are based on these goals. These learning goals support students to become:

• Leaders for life-enhancing social change
• Self-reflective scholar-practitioners
• Extraordinary thinkers who move beyond traditional disciplinary and paradigmatic boundaries
• Professionals who place their work within an expanded geopolitical, temporal, and socioenvironmental context
• Persons who experience intra- and interpersonal authenticity and compassion