"All true things change and only those things that change remain true.” C.G. Jung
People are carefully thinking about educational opportunities during this time of radical uncertainty. They hope to strategically find their way through a world of increasing complexity and rapid, unpredictable change. Grasping the nature, order, and the way of the world has long been a goal sought throughout higher education. Today, however, this question is highly problematized and traditional certitudes of the Academy are hotly contested.
As the present scale and pace of global change is enormous, universities currently experience social pressure to justify their relevance, not only regarding liberal arts and humanities offerings, but also the ostensible importance of entering higher education during a time of record unemployment. How should higher education institutions respond to a world of the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, an increasing global mental health crisis, economic volatility, and planetary deterioration in ways that make matriculation a sagacious decision? This post is simultaneously my meditation on existing conditions at Pacifica Graduate Institute and an imagining of where I hope it soon will be.
At Pacifica, graduate education prepares people to grasp the warp and woof of our unique times: paradox, chaos, liminality, asymmetry, emergence, and synchronicity. To that end, we are fashioning our curriculum and pedagogy to support people navigate global turbulence by offering adaptive psychological skills that include frustration tolerance, cognitive flexibility, resilience, response-ableness, and discernment of the difference between personal agency as a doer and one being done to.
Rather than academic curricula focused reductively on discrete academic disciplines, a curriculum model more suited to worlds of memory, Pacifica favors holism and systems thinking, while emphasizing transdisciplinarity, interdependence, process, relations, fields, and context. We seek new conceptual frameworks to challenge our fundamental ideas as to how knowledge is created, transmitted, and maintained by whom and why.
Institutions in every sector of society are undergoing internal self-examinations and assessments of mission, vision, and values; Pacifica is no exception. Alarmed by denials of potent realities, including the potentially deadly pandemic, institutional racism, and climate change, we are asking meta-questions about how Pacifica itself learns and engenders learning, the basis for our knowing, and whose values and group interests are codified within and privileged by celebrated bodies of knowledge in our curricula.
We resolutely commit ourselves to critically interrogating our organizational biases and assumptions, so as to engender organizational transformation. This commitment is of two kinds: a comprehensive commitment to Pacifica’s health as a living, whole system and not to the self-interest of any one group, since no one works, let alone thrives, in isolation; and a commitment to uncompromising thoughtfulness in all things, understood not as seeking irrefutable fact, but a refusal to live hypocritically, forging a community of incontestable honesty, wherein everyone can be themselves, safely and without intimidation.
Pacifica is making pedagogical, technological, and methodological adjustments that enhance Zoom teleconferencing practices and optimize capacities of our digital learning management system (D2L) for easier navigation, dialogic activities, and library research support. Recent student and faculty surveys have targeted key areas of remote delivery that call for immediate improvement. While it is certain much more needs to be done, Pacifica is moving its degree programs beyond passive modes of knowledge transmission to active forms of co-created knowledge.
Since the shelter-in-place mandate, the Institute is designing virtual communities of inquiry, wherein synchronous and asynchronous remote learning activities can lead to cognitive engagements between students and course content, social exchanges among students, and pedagogical interactions between students and faculty. We are recommending to faculty a constructivist model of learning that stimulates collaborative knowledge, as well as individual and collective forms of intelligence. The online culture we envision is a critical community of learners who together in cohorts socially construct new knowledge.
So why Pacifica now? To help people navigate a turbulent world, each of our accredited degree programs have roots in the fecund soil of depth psychology, since self-knowledge is a prerequisite for knowledge of the world. Our programs study the unconscious mind that is itself characterized by uncertainty, oppositions, non-rationality, compensation, shadow, and self-organization expressed in dreams, imagination, myths, and synchronistic fusions of archetypal processes with physical events, emerging from the foundational ground common to psyche and nature that make categories of opposites obsolete, and where the inner and outer worlds are one.ers who together in cohorts socially construct new knowledge.
Peter M. Rojcewicz, PhD is the Provost and Accreditation Liaison Officer at Pacifica. He is also an education administrator, teacher, folklorist, scholar, and poet. He has researched and taught international fairy tales, folk and popular beliefs, and cross-cultural manifestations of the mythic imagination. Trained in Folklore and Folk Life, English Literature, Jungian depth psychology, and Eastern Philosophy and Religion, he is an authority on archetypal images and symbols found in the arts, wisdom systems, dreams, and mass media. He is a recipient of the Worcester Poetry Prize and the Allen Ginsburg Prize: Honorable Mention.
He serve previously as Chief Academic Officer and Accreditation Liaison Officer at University of the West, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Antioch University Seattle, Dean of the School of Holistic Studies at John F. Kennedy University, as well as Professor and Chair of the Department of Liberal Arts at The Juilliard School, where he was Director of a National Endowment of the Arts Challenge Grant. He took his doctoral degree in Folklore & Folk Life from the University of Pennsylvania where he earned the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. His fieldwork in northern India focused on visual knowledge through sacred and secular imagery.
His folklore fieldwork and scholarship on the enigmatic "Men in Black" phenomenon is highly sighted in the social science literature. A long time member of the Columbia University Seminar on Innovations in Education, he has published and lectured on holistic approaches to art and education, focusing on multiple learning modalities that expand the notion of the intellect to include the judgment of the senses that nurture body/mind/spirit.