By Mark Whitehurst, PhD / As Published in Voice
Asking “big questions” for over 40 years, Pacifica Graduate Institute celebrated their anniversary with challenging ideas, reflections on the past, and a tribute to internationally renowned scholar and psychologist James Hillman. The April conference was held at the sprawling 35 acre Ladera Campus, in Montecito.
“Oh what a journey it has been,” reflected Stephen Aizenstat, Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica, as he welcomed honored guests, alumni, and friends. “Ideas have worked us and added to our edge... We must now dream forward... asking what is next?” he continued.
The event opened with a video clip of James Hillman speaking about important questions such as, “What horse did you ride in on?” and “Where are you in the world of psychotherapy?” Hillman, who pioneered the field of Archetypal Psychology and author of New York Times best seller, Soul Code has a collection of his papers in the Pacifica archive and was closely associated with the Institute from its earliest days. Hillman was one of the speakers at the formal dedication of the Institute in 1986 at the Lambert campus.
Filling an important community need, Pacifica Graduate Institute dates its nearly 40-year life as an educational institution from the 1976 inauguration of a nine-month, paraprofessional “Counseling Skills Certificate” program offered by the Human Relations Center, however the school had its real origin a bit farther back in history. In 1971, the Regents of the University of California provided initial funding for an “Isla Vista Human Relations Center” to meet the mental health needs of the small community immediately adjacent to the University’s Santa Barbara campus. This initial project grew and added a location on Hollister Avenue in nearby Goleta (called the Human Relations Center) to serve the larger Santa Barbara area community. Pacifica now has two campuses, one on Ladera Lane and the other on Lambert Road with over 3,500 active alumni in the world and nine distinct graduate degree programs.
The conference, which brought together leading archetypal psychologists, scholars, cultural critics, and artists, was headlined by Vandana Shiva, Thomas Moore, and Chris Hedges. Other presenters included: Stephen Aizenstat, Patricia Berry, Joseph Cambray, Edward Casey, Toshio Kawai, David Miller, Per Espen Stoknes, Richard Tarnas, Mary Watkins, Safron Rossi, and Glen Slater.