The International Consortium for Academic and Societal Transformation 

Ed Sarath, Founder

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Humanity has reached a crossroads where nothing short of a revolution in creativity and consciousness/spirituality, which needs to take hold in the world’s educational systems, will suffice to address the problems, and opportunities for growth, that are unique to our time.

 

  • The arts are central to the revolution through their capacities to heal prevailing science/spirituality polarization and promote spirituality/art/science synthesis.

 

  • Within the arts, jazz—with its long legacy of improvisers/contemplatives/mystics—and a corresponding Black aesthetics provide a creativity/consciousness blueprint that can be applied across fields; from architecture, athletics, business and engineering to ecology, medicine and global peace efforts and beyond.

 

  • Integral Theory unites with Afrofuturism, Advaita Vedanta and nondual spiritual traditions across the globe, Noetic Sciences and other knowledge systems that bridge ancient wisdom and contemporary insights to provide a conceptual guide for the revolution.

 

  • ICAST’s 20 pillars of thinking and action operationalize these principles and, through heightened diagnosis of prevailing patterns and expanded evolutionary visioning, fundamentally change the narrative on change itself.

 

An educational paradigm that neglects, if not overtly denies, the innermost dimensions of the human being is a primary indicator of a civilization in sharp decline.

The ushering in of an educational paradigm that bridges inner and outer worlds is a defining feature of a civilization on the ascent.

Please consider being part of ICAST’s commitment to planetary leadership inspired by the above principles.

The world is waiting.

ICAST Mission

To promote an arts-driven revolution in creativity and consciousness in education and society.

ICAST Vision

The central message of Buckminster Fuller’s 1969 book, Utopia or Oblivion, may be more apt now than it was at the time the book was written.

In response to the many challenges of the present moment in history, there is no middle ground. Humanity will either achieve new levels of planetary flourishing, or succumb to the wide ranging socio-ecological crises that threaten the very survival of civilization as we know it.

Informed by an emergent worldview called Integral Theory, ICAST brings together the spiritual insights of the world’s wisdom traditions, the creative and cultural vitality of the arts and humanities, and the technological advances of the sciences to advance a paradigmatically new educational vision.

“Never before,” notes the philosopher Ken Wilber, largely recognized as the primary exponent of contemporary integral thought, “has the sum total of human knowledge and achievement, from age-old insights into the nature of consciousness to cutting-edge developments in cognitive neuroscience, been so widely available.”

The arts factor prominently as a catalyst for spirituality/art/science synthesis, with Black aesthetics and its uniquely broad epistemological scope—particularly as embodied in jazz—a guiding precept. Integral Theory thus unites with Afrofuturism, Advaita Vedanta, Quantum Nonlocality, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Archeoastronomy and a wider array of thought streams that bridge ancient wisdom with contemporary understanding to redefine what it means to be an educated individual in the 21st century.

Improvisation, transcultural and transdisciplinary syncretism, the inextricable link between art and life as a whole and spirituality/consciousness are among the cornerstones of the emergent vision.

Diverse epistemologies—or diverse ways of knowing and being—are thus a key distinguishing feature of the integral framework, in sharp contrast to conventional education’s epistemically limited science-spirituality divide. Whereas prevailing epistemic dearth renders education fragmented, surface-bound and static; epistemic breadth—particularly when grounded in creativity and consciousness—promotes integration, inner-outer wholeness and robust capacities to respond to increasingly challenging and unpredictable world circumstances.

Consistent with integral approaches across fields, the creativity/consciousness-based model does not jettison conventional practices but rather resituates the strongest examples of existing models within a fundamentally new developmental context. The emergent framework also significantly expands understanding of, and approaches to a range of contemporary issues. These include familiar themes in higher education such as DEI, ecosustainability, mental health, arts advocacy, and AI as well as more academically elusive, yet equally essential topics such as spirituality, critique of both religious and scientific fundamentalism, healing political and ideological divides and peace building. As examined more closely below, DEI is a key example of prevailing change discourse that, due to epistemic ambivalence, is not only incomplete but which actually fuels the crisis—in this case, systemic racism—in question. ICAST thus strongly recommends renaming and fundamentally reframing the pluralist imperative.

An educational paradigm that neglects—if not overtly rejects—the creative and spiritual dimensions of the learner is a signifying feature of a civilization in peril.

Restoration of spirituality/arts/science wholeness to the heart of learning and human development is key to planetary flourishing.

The time has come for individuals and institutions that harbor leadership aspirations to step up and initiate what may well be among the most extraordinary revolutions in the history of education, with equally significant ramifications for society at large.

Key Terminology

  • Science/spirituality divide: Conventional academia favors science over spirituality and often inadequately integrates the arts.
  • Spirituality/art/science synthesis: The harmonious coexistence and development of spirituality, arts, and science, aligning with Integral Theory’s 1st-2nd-3rd person epistemologies.
  • Materialism: The core of the science/spirituality divide, asserting consciousness stems from neurobiology or matter, dismissing concepts like the soul, transcendent consciousness, and collective consciousness. Exemplified by Francis Crick’s “You are nothing but a pack of neurons.”
  • Integral Theory: A consciousness-based worldview merging spiritual, scientific, artistic, cultural, and philosophical wisdom, emphasizing the coevolution of spiritual/artistic/scientific ways of knowing.
  • Noetic: Soul-centered knowledge, exemplified by astronaut Edgar Mitchell’s Institute for Noetic Sciences, exploring extended human capacities and understanding.
  • Integral and Noetic: Overlapping but distinct principles in the emerging educational paradigm. Noetic education centers on the soul, while integral spirituality/art/science synthesis facilitates the flow of creativity and consciousness throughout education.
  • Post-materialism/prematerialist paradigm: Emphasizes the role of consciousness/spirit in creation, aligning with diverse worldviews and leading-edge scientific research on extended consciousness (psi), supporting ideas of transcendent, non-local, intersubjective, and interactive consciousness with the physical world. This paradigm drives the creativity/consciousness revolution.

20 ICAST PILLARS

Following are the 20 ICAST pillars of thinking and action.
These can be thought of spokes on a wheel, all of which connect–via creativity–to the hub of consciousness.
Therefore, as you explore those pillars of immediate interest, please keep in mind how they intersect with other pillars.
From Noetic Sport to Noetic Science to Black Music Matters to Ecosustainability, all roads lead to consciousness. Creativity/improvisation is the gateway.

1Post-Materialist Consciousness/Spirituality

Unlike prevailing materialist views in academia, ICAST embraces a post-material perspective on consciousness. Combining ancient spiritual wisdom with cutting-edge scientific research, the post-materialist paradigm promotes a vastly expanded epistemological spectrum in its quest individual and societal transformation. This includes enhanced well-being, clarity, compassion, self-awareness, and creativity in students, along with collective consciousness-based initiatives that promote societal, ecological and other types of healing.

Related Project:

Consortium for Consciousness Studies in Higher Education (CCSHE)

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Consciousness from a materialist perspective is either reducible or epiphenomenal to a physical substrate. ICAST proceeds from a post-materialist perspective, where consciousness—while not devoid of neuro-biological correlates—is physically transcendent, survives bodily death, nonlocal and primary in the broader scheme of creation. Age-old wisdom from the world’s spiritual traditions unites with leading-edge scientific findings to support the post-materialist (which might also be called pre-materialist) framework. As expressed in the Vedantic tradition, individual consciousness is to universal consciousness as the wave is to the ocean. Whereas materialism denies the existence of soul, transcendent experience (as anything beyond neuro-cognitive explanation) and heightened perceptual capacities, post-materialist understanding of consciousness situates these and other phenomena within a significantly more expansive vision of human creativity and spiritual potential.

A large body of scientific research, although often marginalized in the academic sciences, into the discarnate, nonlocal and intersubjective dimensions of consciousness issues significant challenges to materialism and strongly supports the post/pre-materialist framework. Duke University, Princeton University, the University of Virginia and Mamanaides Hospital—institutional challenges notwithstanding—are examples of mainstream sites that have provided space and resources for this research. Institute for Noetic Sciences, California Institute for Human Science, International Consciousness Studies Laboratory and Maharishi International University are examples of non-mainstream sites that have made seminal contributions. Society for Scientific Exploration, Science and Medical Network, Association for Post-Materialist Science are among the professional organizations that have emerged to offer safe haven for open and rigorous inquiry into consciousness.

Educational ramifications of competing worldviews
The materialist view of consciousness underlies the science/spirituality divide and the epistemologically narrow and fragmented horizons that define conventional education.

The post/pre-materialist paradigm provides a basis for spirituality/art/science synthesis and thus a significantly broadened and integrative epistemological scope that promote creativity/consciousness evolution.

A wide array of transformative benefits, for individuals and society, stem from the emergent model. Individual growth indicators include cognitive sharpening, improved mental health, interpersonal development, transdisciplinary awareness, and an array of attributes related to higher stage creativity/consciousness development (integration of transcendent experience into everyday life, transformed perception of self, heightened interconnectedness with others, environment and cosmos, and other aspects of mystical experience).

Among the more provocative collective growth indicators is the collective consciousness principle, where a promising body of research suggests that large-group meditation practice may generate a harmonizing influence on the environment, resulting in decreased crime, illness and accidents. ICAST will promote further exploration of this intervention as well as ramifications of the collective consciousness principle for addressing issues such as the ecological crises, planetary peace and conflict-resolution, and technology-related challenges (i.e. AI).

An educational paradigm that neglects, if not decimates, the creative and spiritual foundations of the human being is a primary indicator of a civilization in sharp decline.
An educational paradigm that restores spirituality/arts/science wholeness signifies a civilization in ascent.

2BLACK MUSIC MATTERS 

ICAST expands the improvisation movement across various fields into the realm of consciousness. Improvisation is seen as a connection to the soul and inherent in the cosmic structure. This jazz-based music studies paradigm transforms arts advocacy and makes all arts, including classical music, dance, theater, and visual arts/film, essential to the ICAST spirituality/art/science synthesis.

Related Projects:

Alliance for the Transformation of Musical Academe (ATMA)

International Society for Improvised Music (ISIM)

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Conventional arts practice and arts advocacy have not been immune from the epistemological crisis that stems from the materialist science/spirituality divide. The marginalization of improvisation in music studies is a primary example. Whereas improvisation has long been the primary modality for musical navigation and understanding in cultures across the globe, and was central in earlier eras in the European tradition to which music schools ostensibly claim homage, the process remains anomalous among the majority of music students and faculty.

This is problematic not only in its limitations in the preparation of aspiring musicians, but for its ramifications across fields. A transformed music studies paradigm, rooted in creativity-consciousness, is the locus for galvanizing and rendering all of the arts the essential link for spirituality/art/science synthesis. Proclamations about the transformative capacities of the arts that fail to acknowledge the epistemological crisis in music are yet another example of empty progressivist rhetoric that only reifies the prevailing paradigm. Indeed, such rhetoric further centers the science/spirituality divide by which the arts are marginalized in the first place.

Here a parallel, overarching epistemic crisis/contradiction comes into focus that sheds further light on both the musical manifestation of the problem and its systemic scope across the educational spectrum. The philosopher Pierre Hadot has been eloquent in his reminder that the ancient Greco-Roman systems of logic, rational analysis and critical thinking that are the intellectual basis for the academy were the outgrowth of consciousness-based engagement among the various philosophical schools. Only through transcending ordinary forms of mental engagement were philosophers able to formulate intellectual pathways whereby outer coherence and progress could be grounded in sound interior principles. Just as music studies has skimmed the surface objects (works that comprise the European canon) from the creative epistemologies that gave rise to them, overall academic inquiry has similarly skimmed surface intellectual objects from their transpersonal epistemological roots.

The fact that musical and overall academic conventionalists will nonetheless reject efforts for (re)integration of improvisation (in music) and meditation (in the humanities, if not across fields) in the name of upholding tradition and academic integrity, underscores the epistemic contradiction that engulfs higher education. Concerns expressed from the academic sector about a crisis in critical thinking, for which higher education prides itself, that engulfs contemporary society only underscore the contradiction; annihilation of creativity/consciousness interiors annihilates critical inquiry capacities—with the blatant ignorance of the epistemic/historical foundations for critical thinking, as evidenced above, a primary example.

Primordial epistemological anchors
To be sure, the idea that—among the innumerable forms of music, let alone across the arts—jazz might be key to galvanizing music and the arts in the overarching transformation may pose challenges to conventional arts understanding as formidable as post-materialist challenges to conventional scientific understanding.

The principle of epistemological anchors is key.

Jazz is well-known for its improvisatory foundations, and—from an expanded historical perspective—may be seen as the site where improvisation made its return, if in more globally-mediated form, in the West. Less well-known is that a long legacy of jazz artists have complemented their wide-ranging creative excursions with contemplative disciplines and corresponding studies that, as just seen in Western philosophical schools, take awareness to transcendent dimensions of consciousness.

Also significant is that both epistemic anchors spawn a wide range of further modalities for creativity/consciousness-based engagement and understanding that have application across the arts and all educational fields. Improvisation along the creativity line anchors compositional, performance-based creativity as well as many areas of craft (technical and theoretical skills; aurality/somatic/rhythmic fluency; aesthetic/cultural, cognitive awareness) that support creative (and consciousness-based) development.

Along the consciousness line, the experience of pure consciousness—awareness of nothing but awareness itself, where exquisite mind-body stillness coexist with extraordinary wakefulness—anchors a broader contemplative range that includes somatic, creativity-based, nature-based, devotional and other modalities.

Both lines support an important principle that is key to differentiating between conventional and emergent (integral/noetic) approaches to arts practice and advocacy, as well as prevailing and emergent educational reform discourse:

Jazz is among the most epistemologically diverse knowledge systems in the history of the academy.

Jazz enables the ICAST idea of an arts-driven revolution in creativity and consciousness to take one further step, one that is only possible through the shift from materialist to post/pre-materialist paradigms.

Improvisation, Soul and Cosmos
Among the most fruitful connections made by jazz’s long legacy of improvisers/contemplatives (creativity/consciousness innovators) involves the jazz-Vedanta nexus. If, as noted previously, human consciousness is to cosmic intelligence as the wave is to the ocean, human creativity is similarly inextricably linked to cosmic creativity. Recognizing, moreover, that the Vedantic notion of lila, or universal creative play by which Brahman, the source of all Being, gives rise to the infinitely diverse creation, is improvisatory in nature, the roots of human improvisation can be understood to run not only deeply in the soul, but in the structure of the cosmos itself.

Human beings are co-evolutionary participants in the cosmic improvisatory unfolding.

Jazz not only redefines arts-advocacy but yields a template that is applicable across the arts, humanities and sciences for creativity/consciousness transformation.

Important parallels also come into focus between collective improvisatory performance and collective consciousness-based healing interventions. The uniting of an emergent aesthetic premise (collective creativity) and emergent social transformative premise (collective meditation/spirituality) gives further shape to the ICAST idea of creativity/consciousness revolution.

A single axiom underscores an important first step in the new direction:

Arts advocacy, no matter how vociferous about how the arts are marginalized, that fails to acknowledge the epistemic crisis in music studies fuels the source of arts marginalization.

Proclamations about the transformative capacities of the arts that fail to acknowledge the epistemological crisis in music are yet another example of empty progressivist rhetoric that only reifies the prevailing paradigm. Indeed, such rhetoric further centers the science/spirituality divide by which the arts are marginalized in the first place.

3Noetic Arts Advocacy

Revitalizing and galvanizing all arts around Black aesthetic/global principles.

4Collective Consciousness

Harnessing the transformative impact of collective creative and spiritual practice.

5Transdisciplinarity, Critical Thinking, Rigor

Today’s challenges demand individuals who can cross disciplines and tap into transcendent depths where disciplines converge. The improvisation/meditation connection facilitates this access, leading to the emergence of new paradigms for critical thinking and rigor.

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The importance of transcending disciplinary boundaries as essential for solving today’s challenges is nothing new in academic reform conversation. However, the creativity/consciousness paradigm significantly expands how transdisciplinarity is understood and operationalized. The experience of pure consciousness takes the concept from an intellectual construct to direct, noetic experience, which lays new groundwork for critically examining the prevailing educational paradigm (and alternatives thereto) and rigor. Awareness of nothing but awareness itself—where profound mind-body stillness coexists with the most exquisitely radiant wakefulness—grounds education is a realm transcendent of disciplinary differentiation. Improvisation-based creativity and creative awareness, in turn, promotes navigation of the primordial interstices from which all knowledge originates and the subtle strata at which all disciplines first begin to differentiate. Transdisciplinary awareness, then, is not oblivious to disciplinary differentiation but, in fact, enables heightened conception of such through access to, at once, the transcendent depths beneath surface disciplinary waves and the broader spectrum of disciplinary manifestation.

Important by-products of noetic transdisciplinarity involve heightened critical inquiry capacities and levels of rigor. When awareness swings between transcendent silence and dynamic surface engagement, understanding of both how disciplines intersect and interact with one another expands along with heightened attention to localized detail; hence, entirely new parameters for rigor (to re-invoke a former educational buzzword invoked by conventionalists even as they would cling to epistemically narrow, fragmented and surface-bound practices which conflate rigor with rigor mortis).

The same transdisciplinary awareness is key to capacities to step back and critically interrogate both a given field and the overarching educational paradigm. While—similar to prevailing assumptions about rigor—cultivation of critical thinking capacities is often deemed an unquestioned hallmark of educational achievement, a creativity/consciousness lens reveals that the conventional model decimates critical thinking, not only within but across disciplines. Among the biggest obstacles to reform that moves beyond token modifications is the paradigm-obliviousness of participants in reform discourse.

6Redefining Mental health

Neglecting the science/spirituality divide in mental health interventions within conventional education worsens student well-being and contributes to the crisis. While ICAST acknowledges broader challenges (socio-economic uncertainties, climate crises, disconnect from nature) and the value of conventional methods, it repositions analysis and healing on creativity/consciousness-based foundations to empower students and revitalize their engagement in studies and life.

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Epistemologically narrow, fragmented and surface-bound knowledge systems, such as those which dominate, undermine mental health. Ethno-epistemically broad, integrative (inner-outer development, transdisciplinary growth) and contoured knowledge systems promote mental health, as measured by well-being, resilience, self-awareness, interpersonal development, leadership capacities, spiritual development. The ICAST protocol measures mental health not as absence of depression, anxiety and other debilitating afflictions, but through psycho/emotional/spiritual flourishing.

7Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism

Claims of inclusivity without integrating diverse global perspectives exacerbate the racial justice crisis that DEI aims to solve. Jazz and a Black aesthetic, marginalized in academia despite their epistemic diversity, offer a lens for redefining pluralist narratives.

Related Project:

Alliance for the Transformation of Musical Academe (ATMA)

Related Information:

Post-DEI Pluralism Leadership Proposal – Music Studies Focus

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Claims to welcome individuals from diverse backgrounds without foundational integration of their diverse ways of knowing and being are not only incomplete, they fuel racism. Ethno-epistemically broad, integrative (inner-outer development, transdisciplinary growth) and contoured knowledge systems are key to new pluralism paradigms. The marginalized place of jazz in music studies, and a Black aesthetic across the arts and humanities, is a primary example of not only DEI lapse, but its detrimental impact. Indeed, whereas DEI took hold on the wings of a revived Black Lives Matter movement, the failure to take the next step of Black Music Matters (and Black Aesthetics Matter) may well represent the height of academic hubris—which can only be analyzed as the most egregious examples of racism in disguise.

ICAST strongly urges the identification of these patterns, not to dwell on them but to clearly say their names, in the context of fundamental revisioning of the diversity/racial justice/artistic justice/spiritual justice imperative. Immediate extinction of the DEI heading is a first step in this process. As a colleague at the University of Michigan courageously asserted—DEI needs to D.I.E.

8Ecosustainability/flourishing

ICAST promotes a jazz-inspired model of ‘improvisatory ecologies’ to address the climate emergency. It emphasizes enhanced adaptability, pattern recognition, and the transformation of unexpected challenges into growth opportunities. This approach includes collective art-making and spiritual practices to harness cosmic creativity for healing.

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The ICAST creativity-consciousness paradigm introduces paradigmatically new dimensions to ecosustainabilty discourse and action. Central is the principle of jazz-inspired improvisatory ecologies, which include heightened resilience, interactive capacities (with environment and others), creative problem-solving capacities, and awareness of localized relationships as embedded in overarching strata of macro-relationships (epistemological, ethnological). The jazz ecosystem encompasses the innermost strata of consciousness/soul, the most minute details of the creative process, and the furthest dimensions of the cosmic wholeness.

Within this expanse, two forms of noetic intervention that are particularly significant come into focus. First involves deep levels of communion with the natural world and the subtle energies, or strata of spiritual intelligence, that the world’s wisdom traditions have long recognized as intrinsic to bio-physical reality, yet which dramatically elude the gaze of industrial society and its educational systems.

An additional noetic intervention involves enlivenment of collective consciousness via large group meditation and focused intention programs. If, as one can reasonably infer from the combination of indigenous wisdom and leading-edge scientific inquiry into the nature of consciousness, mind and physical reality are aspects of an undivided wholeness, the possibility that consciousness-based environmental interventions—however challenging to both conventional and progressivist academic assumptions—is one that we ignore at our peril.

Music improvisers attune to multiple levels of information—manifest, transcendent and all in-between—in their creative excursions and consciousnss/spirituality development; this same awareness needs to undergird academic (and other) ecosustainability programs, in so doing rendering them ecoflourishig programs.

 

9Eradicating Global Poverty

Socio-political/economic/creative/spiritual campaign to eradicate poverty

10Noetic Science, Technology and Artificial Intelligence

Disconnecting technological development from consciousness/spiritual growth is a recipe for disaster, as seen in AI. ICAST advocates a spirituality/art/science approach to AI, where contemplatives and artists are equally vital alongside engineers and technologists to address this challenge.

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AI is perhaps the most recent example of the threat that scientific and technological growth, its many contributions to the quality of life notwithstanding, poses when disconnected from consciousness/spiritual foundations. ICAST brings a significantly expanded approach to the topic which situates AI inquiry within the biggest questions surrounding human nature and potential and the place of the human being in the cosmic wholeness. The collective consciousness principle may be among the most illuminating in terms of distinguishing between machine and human intelligence, providing a backdrop against which development of machine intelligence occurs, and possibly an antidote to unpredictable destructive capacities of such development (massive disinformation campaigns, a race of self-organizing/self-replicative machines with emergent, or nefariously programmed, destructive capacities; unleashing of nano-viruses, etc).

11Healing Religious, Scientific and Aesthetic Extremism

While religious extremism is recognized, scientific and aesthetic extremism often go unnoticed, yet they have a significant and harmful impact. ICAST’s spirituality/art/science paradigm emphasizes the interconnectedness and co-evolution of these realms.

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While the exclusion of religion, and with it extremist religious viewpoints, is an important (if rarely expressly articulated) part of conventional academic culture, the idea of scientific fundamentalism—even as it pervades much academic pedagogy and research (including the improvisation-defient arts)—is less familiar and, when brought to attention, often elicits intensive reactions. Aesthetic fundamentalism attracts modest amounts of attention through DEI and related lenses, though rarely foregrounded to the extent it warrants (particularly when it comes to Black music and aesthetics). ICAST views all three forms of fundamentalism as manifestations of the academy’s epistemic crisis, with the science/spirituality divide at its core. Diagnosis of the problem is an important step toward spirituality/arts/science synthesis, where—in place of division and conflict—all domains, grounded in creativity/consciousness interiors—coexist and co-evolve.

12Transcending Ideological/Political Divides

The conventional academy overlooks and even exacerbates ideological and political divides, primarily through the science/spirituality divide. Creativity/consciousness-based education fosters soul-level awareness and improvisation-based epistemologies, bridging connections across political identities. ICAST programs prepare leaders to facilitate healing dialogues and actions.

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Oblivious to the twin pathologies of religious and scientific extremism, the academy plays an important role in fueling the political/ideological divides that riddle the US and world. Reproductive rights is a particularly charged and divisive topic that higher education’s spiritual aversion only exacerbates; were the academy a site centered in deep probing of the soul—where all human beings, regardless of political, ethnological, gender identity and other orientations, connect—highly productive conversations could transpire that, at the very least, begin to dispel the sharp divisiveness, which increasingly leads to violence, that prevails.

Similar to DEI, ecosustainability, mental health, and arts advocacy; the conventional academic paradigm is incapable of probing the epistemic roots of a pressing real-world issue. Unlike the former areas, however, the conventional academy has not even reached the point of identifying political/ideological tensions as an issue that it might have an obligation to address.

A jazz-inspired noetic standpoint offers much in the way of guidance. Recalling creativity/consciousness-based capacities for critically interrogating language, new perspectives on highly charged and divisive terminology such as conservative and liberal, closely related to spirituality and science, come into focus. Conservative and liberal impulses originate deep in the structure of the cosmos itself, and thus coexist and coevolve at the innermost dimensions of the soul and overlying levels of individual and collective life. The same holds for spirituality/religion and science. Surface tensions are thus the product of disconnection from the soul level—among the seminal contributions of conventional education to the decline of human civilization—and can be healed through arts-driven spirituality/art/science synthesis.

A backdrop of spiritually-robust conversation and experience could also transform exchanges around race, immigration and environmental issues that fuel, and are fueled, by current political/ideological divides.

ICAST promotes programs to prepare individuals to convene dialogue that heals the divides so that individuals of contrasting orientations can work together for the betterment of society.

13Peace Building

Peace building remains overlooked in academia. ICAST advocates a holistic approach, combining traditional methods (diplomacy, negotiations, etc.) with arts/spirituality-based cultural exchange and collective consciousness-driven strategies to enhance global harmony.

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While not as starkly absent as initiatives devoted to healing political/ideological tensions, peace building work is nonetheless notably scarce and underscores the academy and its disconnect from the world we live in. ICAST’s creativity/consciousness-based vision introduces new and expanded ways of understanding and addressing conflict. Collective consciousness interventions fundamentally transform the conversation, not in place of conventional approaches (diplomacy, cultural exchange, etc), and work in tandem with arts-driven collaboration across cultural boundaries. ICAST will convene transformative symposia/festivals around the arts/spirituality nexus that juxtapose collective meditation/spiritual practice, improvisation-based artistic interaction and noetic activist programs.

14Public Education as Transformative Gateway

K-12 educators and administrators play a vital role in transmitting creativity/consciousness-driven education principles to society. ICAST focuses on programs to revolutionize public education, with a central emphasis on jazz-inspired transformation of music teacher education programs.

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K-12 teacher and administrator education and licensing programs are the conduit through which the assumptions and practices of the conventional paradigm are transmitted to society. That same public education conduit, however, can uphold a transformative function and transmit a creativity/consciousness vision and practices to the world. Schools of education, while not enjoying the same status as other disciplines (e.g. schools of education, or medicine, or the arts and humanities) are of enormous importance in the creativity/consciousness revolution. Within the arts, the transformation of K-12 music teacher education around noetic premises may be the most impactful site in all of education for the revolution.

15K-12 Music Teacher Education as Ground Zero for Arts-driven Transformation

Mobilizing the site most directly positioned to launch and propel the revolution

16Noetic Sport Leadership

ICAST sees athletes as profound artists who, like musicians, delve deep into their consciousness through improvisation and often engage in spiritual practices. Art and sports, often overlooked on campuses beyond entertainment, offer valuable wisdom for reshaping education and society.

Related Project:

Organization of Artists and Athletes for Spirituality in Education and Society (OAASES)

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While the arts and athletics are securely positioned on college/university campuses, neither significantly inform the academic mission, let alone are recognized as transformative catalysts. The arts are recognized as a cultural enhancement, athletics is largely relegated to an entertainment/school spirit function. ICAST takes important further steps in recognizing the deeper contributions of the two domains. First involves recognizing the athlete as a profound artist and creative/spiritual visionary, thus conjoining two academic areas that do not commonly interact (beyond athletic bands in music schools). Artists/athletes invoke performance-driven transcendence as well as frequently engage in formal consciousness-based spiritual practices and have much to offer challenging conversations such as healing political/ideological divides, racial justice, peace building, mental health and educational reform.

17(R)Evolutionary Philanthropy

a. Mobilizing philanthropic leadership and resource distribution for planetary benefit

18Enlivening the Cosmic Imagination

ICAST challenges conventional education by exploring unconventional practices like investigating UAP and extraterrestrial life to stimulate imagination and deepen awareness of humanity’s role in the cosmos.

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In its commitment to grappling with the biggest questions surrounding the nature of the human being and its place in the cosmic wholeness, ICAST promotes foregrounding of yet another academically-elusive area—that involving the prospects of extra-terrestrial intelligence and potential contact therewith. Triggered by increased attention among governmental, military, religious, corporate and other leaders into Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, inquiry that for decades was quite robust in popular culture has now begun to take hold in more mainstream circles. The importance of consciousness-based UAP inquiry, however, remains elusive. The late senator Harry Reid, speaking from a post-materialist vantage point, emphasized this point: “the UAP phenomenon cannot be seriously investigated separate from the topic of consciousness and its farther reaches.” Here an important parallel between academic consciousness studies and academic UAP studies, both approached from either proclaimed or default materialist vantage points, may be noted: Neuroscience is privileged in the former, astronomy and astrophysics in the latter. If there is any validity to the technological capacities—which appear to defy known laws of physics—being observed by top military personnel, the possibility of advanced consciousness development, including mind-matter interaction, needs to have a place in the inquiry.

While remaining agnostic on the extraterrestrial origins of UAP, ICAST foregrounds the possibility as a kind of thought experiment that catalyzes far-reaching reflection. If humans are not alone among intelligent life forms, how does this impact how we understand our cosmic status? What might be the impact of contact with extraterrestrial species? What would that contact look like? Might there be value in preparing for such a moment, not so much from a practical standpoint but in light of the questions it raises?

UAP are yet another catalyst for what philosopher Sean Esbjörn-Hargens calls “Enlivening the Cosmic Imagination”—a central facet of noetic education. .

19Navigating the Rapids

Spiritual traditions predict historical transitions with turbulence that bring new human paradigms. Indicators in economics, ecology, health, race, and ideology suggest an impending period of change. While academia focuses on enrollment, ICAST prioritizes proactive transformation, enhancing creativity, consciousness, and resilience for innovation and new interventions.

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ICAST sustains an optimistic view for the future of humanity and the prospects for unprecedented levels of planetary flourishing—as measured by peace, the end of widespread poverty amid an age of global prosperity, ecological rejuvenation, racial/ethnological justice, creativity, spiritual growth, among other indicators. However, what the pathway from the current state of world affairs, which—while not without instances of great beauty, altruism and other positive attributes—is deeply riddled with crises and what the emergent vision might look like remains unclear. ICAST thus recognizes the idea found in wisdom traditions across the globe of inevitable periods of turbulence—which may involve widespread suffering and socio-economic collapse—that accompany evolutionary shifts, which ultimately are shifts in global consciousness.

Two important principles might be noted that carry strong ramifications for creativity/consciousness-based educational reform.

First involves the capacity for hope, an essential facet of well-being and thus creative interventions, that is possible when periods of turbulence as planetary healing cycles. By contrast, nihilism and despair, which decimate creativity and well-being, are inevitable outgrowths of materialist ideology.

Second is a principle that is an even more powerful source of hope, optimism and creativity: This entails the capacity in human consciousness, due to its collective/intersubjective nature, and also its inextricable link to cosmic intelligence, to mitigate, or significantly neutralize, turbulence and suffering during global healing cycles. Collective meditation/spiritual practice, working in tandem with collective improvisatory (and other forms of) art making will thus be key to any such effect.

It is of utmost importance for educational systems to inform society about the overarching dynamics of change, the healing function of turbulent cycles, and the capacity for enlivened individual and collective consciousness to mollify corresponding suffering; in essence, to transmit the message that humanity has a choice in what the future holds.

20Changing the Narrative Around Change Itself

Academia often limits change to superficial modifications. ICAST reorients focus to examine change itself rigorously, distinguishing between superficial and paradigmatic shifts, exemplified by the spirituality/science divide.

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If the world is to invoke the transformation to creativity/consciousness-driven planetary flourishing, not only is it necessary to deepen the diagnostic interrogation of the conventional educational paradigm and expand future visioning, but entirely conversation needs to transpire around the phenomenon of change itself. Change needs to be approached as a topic of study that warrants levels of critical analysis, rigor and wide-ranging, transdisciplinary interrogation that are as robust as found in any academic discipline. Given the chronic aversion to even moderate types of reform that have long plagued the academy, particular attention needs to be devoted to distinctions between superficial and paradigmatic change, with consciousness and its far-reaching spiritual/mystical implications serving as a primary example catalyst for the latter inquiry.

GATEWAY PILLARS and GRIDS

ICAST Grids are faculty/student clusters that sustain penetrating dialogue and creation of
curricular, research and other initiatives around the themes of the ICAST pillars.

Having laid out the 20 ICAST pillars, the next step is to harness their transformative impact, individually and collectively, in educational models.   

Given the number and scope of the pillars, with more likely to be added, this will take some attention.

A helpful first step may be to envision the pillars as spokes on a wheel, all of which unite in the central hub of consciousness.

Conventional education not only lacks any such hub, but—rooted in materialist, science-spirituality polarization—is confined to a notably narrow and fragmented scope of surface epistemologies.

While the problem of the so-called “silos” is nothing new in academic change discourse, what eludes attention is that the problem will never be solved by exterior connections between disciplines—as challenging as even this is.

Rather, the roots of disciplinary compartmentalization lie in underlying epistemological splintering—what have been discussed elsewhere in ICAST commentary as two primary epistemic meta-crises—and which are thus central to integrative learning and research.

Recall that the disappearance of meditation and contemplative inquiry in Western intellectual life comprises the first meta-crisis, the disappearance of improvisation in Western musical life—which perpetuates fragmentation between performance and creation in all the performing arts—comprises the second. 

Post-materialist, spirituality-art-science synthesis represents a powerful alternative, rooted in an expanded and unified epistemic scope that is rich in interior-exterior connections. Arts-driven healing of the two epistemic meta-crises is central.

Hence the ICAST wheel consists of not only existing disciplines and educational modalities, albeit now conceived in more expansive ways through integral (creativity/consciousness-based) approaches, but also areas that elude academic attention (e.g. post-materialist consciousness/spirituality, transcending ideological and political divides, peace building, Black aesthetics and Afrofuturism, etc).

All areas (spokes/pillars), moreover, connect in the realm (hub) of consciousness.

Here an important principle emerges—which is that some spokes/pillars are uniquely endowed with integral capacities to intersect with the whole.

By centering even a handful of such, a basic structure is in place whereby the ICAST wheel can support any number of additional spokes and begin to roll even across the most rugged terrain.

This leads to the establishment of ICAST grids, which are clusters of pillars around each of which faculty, students and staff coalesce according to their interests.

A grid consisting of only a handful of pillars can have a powerful transformative impact on a campus.

When, moreover, grids from different institutions begin talking and collaborating with one another, hence comprising national-international grids, local transformation radiates outward to become global transformation.

Identification of Gateway Pillars, which can be thought of as the nucleus of a grid, is key to this process.

It is not, however, that participants interested in a given pillar not designated as “gateway” need wait to meet and mobilize; rather, this can happen simultaneously with establishing the initial gateway nucleus within their campus/organizational community.

Gateway Pillars:

• Post-Materialist Consciousness/Spirituality (along with Noetic Sciences)
• Black Music Matters (along with Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism, Noetic Arts Advocacy)
• Noetic Sport
• K-12 Public School Education (along with K-12 Music Teacher Education)
• Changing the Narrative on Change Itself

Pillar #1

Post-Materialist Consciousness/Spirituality (along with Noetic Sciences)

Unites colleagues from across fields, with significant participation from the sciences, to expand conversation on consciousness and its foundational role in the overall arts-driven educational/societal transformation.

Pillar #2

Black Music Matters (along with Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism, Noetic Arts Advocacy)

Cross-disciplinary exploration of the racial justice imperative through a creativity / consciousness-based lens, with emphasis on Black music and aesthetics as diagnostic and evolutionary locus, and its ramifications for a new pluralism paradigm.

Related Information:

Post-DEI Pluralism Leadership Proposal – Music Studies Focus

Pillar #3

Noetic Sport

Cross-disciplinary exploration of sport as a deep, improvisation-rich lens into the creativity/ consciousness-spirituality relationship and typically overlooked catalyst for individual, education and societal transformation.

Pillar #4

K-12 Public School Education (along with K-12 Music Teacher Education)

Cross-disciplinary exploration of the importance of K-12 teacher/ administrator educational programs in linking academic transformation to societal transformation.

Pillar #5

Changing the Narrative on Change Itself

Reorients toward a focus on rigorously examining change, distinguishing between superficial and paradigmatic shifts, exemplified by the spirituality/ science divide.

 

A central office will coordinate communication and collaboration between clusters on a given campus and be in close contact with the national/international ICAST hub. In this way, the very epistemological circuitry through which creativity and consciousness flow within a given individual can also be seen to manifest at institutional, national and global levels.

Gateway Criteria

Gateway status is predicated on the following criteria:

  •  Epistemic diversity and primordial epistemologies

All gateway pillars are predicated on robust epistemic diversity (spirituality/art/science unity) as opposed to epistemic dearth (science/spirituality polarization, with arts/creativity marginalized).

 Improvisation along the creativity line and meditation along the consciousness are deemed primordial epistemologies due to their capacities to, at once, connect with the soul level of human awareness and also spawn a broad spectrum of sub-epistemologies.

Improvisatory roots, for example, invite engagement with a broad creative spectrum across the arts and beyond.

Meditation invites diverse forms of contemplative engagement.

The improvisation-meditation/creativity-consciousness interplay embodies epistemic scope and topography , which in turn upholds the diagnostic and evolutionary functions key to the ICAST vision; the more robust and richly contoured the epistemic scope, the deeper the grasp of conventional academic limitations and expansive the future developmental scope.

  •  Positionality

All gateway pillars correspond to areas that are well-established on college/university campuses, even if these areas are typically not approached from the standpoint of epistemic breadth and integral/noetic principles.

 While Post-Materialist Consciousness (PMC) inquiry, for example, has little in the way of a conventional home, ample openings to such abound in the arts, humanities and—albeit to a lesser extent—the sciences.

Here the importance of a Noetic Science pillar along with PMC cannot be emphasized strongly enough; without colleagues from neuroscience, physics, psychology and other science areas involved in post-materialist discourse, the inertia of materialism will continue to pose significant challenges to the paradigmatic change imperative.

Athletics is another example of an area that sustains a strong presence on academic campus, even if not typically viewed (beyond athletes themselves) as more than upholding an entertainment function.

ICAST views the athlete as a profound artist/visionary that has essential contributions to make in the ushering in of the creativity/consciousness-based educational paradigm that is central to the future of humanity.

Establishment of a Noetic Sport pillar can capitalize on the inherent visibility of athletics to support this leadership role.

Of particular significance is the Black Music Matters pillar, which hits at the heart of the arts-driven transformation, particularly when working in tandem with Noetic Arts Advocacy and Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism pillars.

Central is that Black Music exemplifies the principles of epistemic diversity and topography along with the racial justice imperative.

The BMM pillar propels, and is fueled by growing interest in the arts as an important overarching educational domain, even if the arts—particularly music remain constrained by epistemic dearth.

Even more dramatic is the BMM/Post DEI coupling; few areas are as visible and associated with progress as DEI, even if the area faces growing scrutiny as little more than a politically-correct smokescreen.

Inasmuch as epistemic ambivalence is a prominent lapse in DEI discourse, BMM—especially evident in jazz—fills this void and transforms the pluralism narrative.

This leads to the Ground Zero criterion, which penetrates even deeper into BMM/Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism discourse and arrives at what may be the most impactful site in all of education for the creativity/consciousness revolution takes hold.

  • Ground Zero principle

The Ground Zero principle is perhaps best illustrated in terms of peeling back surface layers in each word in ICAST’s mission of an “arts-driven revolution in creativity and consciousness in education and society.”

Beneath each layer lies an underlying layer, the pursuit of which brings us closer to a central location where the seeds of the CC revolution may be planted and optimally begin to sprout.

Within the arts, music looms large. Within music, Black music and aesthetics are key due to corresponding epistemic scope and primordial epistemologies. Within the Black music/aesthetic pantheon, jazz and its long legacy of improvisers/contemplatives—hence exemplary of both epistemic scope and primordiality—are highly prominent.

This process foregrounds the establishment of a Jazz/Black Music-based music studies paradigm, with its capacities to reinvigorate all the arts (including engagement with European canon) and catalyze arts-driven transformation, as an essential guidepost in our Ground Zero question.

One further step remains, however, and this entails identifying a delivery system by which the transformative impact of the emergent music studies paradigm may be transmitted to the world.

The answer lies in the surprisingly elusive intersection between arts-driven, creativity/consciousness transformation and the public school education pillar.

More precisely: Public School Music Teacher Education is where our quest for Ground Zero is fulfilled.

Think about it: The majority of colleges/universities have music schools that offer music teacher certification.

While the orientation has long been toward grounding in a version of the European canon (Band, Orch, Choir model), with embellishments, a strong argument can be made that Black Music foundations could enhance this framework while opening up to the broader musical landscape, and via the epistemic scope and primordiality (improvisation and meditation) inherent in this model, the broader creativity/consciousness expanse.

This argument could be made from, at once, artistic, pedagogical and social justice/racial justice angles, themes that are in no way new to Music Education change conversations, but have eluded significant change efforts.

While the consciousness/spirituality topic is generally new, it only adds support to the transformative vision.

What has been lacking is understanding of the predicament, awareness of the depth of anti-Black racist (musical and otherwise) entrenchment, grasp of the evolutionary possibilities that might open up were the crisis to be healed, and leadership commitment in music studies and education at large.

To be sure, the change in question—even in its localized manifestations (within music studies)—would be among the tumultuous upheavals in the history of education.

At the same time, it may well also be among the most exciting and fruitful in its impact.

However, little in this direction will transpire without a collective effort among any given campus community.

The very fragmentation that plagues the academy, with dire consequences for students’ educational and personal growth, also inhibits educational change efforts.

College/university administrators are loathe to intercede in the affairs of a given unit, which thus leaves it upon music schools and departments to solve their own problems.

That field, however, has proven over decades of reform conversation that it is—like most fields—incapable of anything more than token embellishments. If the Ground Zero principle is to be operationalized and lead to genuine transformation, these patterns need to be identified and addressed.

In this regard, readers from all disciplines are encouraged to have a look at the Post-DEI Manifesto: Music Studies focus for further elaboration on the Music Teacher Education pillar as Ground Zero for arts-driven, creativity/consciousness revolution.

This leads to the final Gateway Pillar—Changing the Narrative on Change Itself.

Here Thomas Kuhn’s landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, warrants attention.  Commonly hailed as a lens into the history of paradigmatic change in the sciences, the book also provides guidance for paradigmatic change across fields.

The above analysis, and related ICAST commentary on change in music studies, might thus provide the basis for an arts-based correlate—‘The Structure of Musical Revolutions,’ which might in turn spawn an even more consequential document, ‘The Structure of Educational Revolutions.’ The fact that music and the arts are conspicuously devoid of such inquiry speaks volumes about their respective crises, and that educational change visioning—while far more robust in volume and scope than arts-based parallels—typically falls short of the consciousness turn.

The time is long overdue, then, when the topic of change is approached as a domain unto itself.

Meaning, it is approached with the same analytical rigor, critical vitality and epistemically-diverse engagement as any academic discipline.

Participants in change conversations need to engage in the interplay between four key modalities: reading, writing, reflection and dialogue.

This will be key to stepping back and examining the assumptions and practices that undergird prevailing paradigms and impede anything more than ornamentation thereof.

Key themes in higher order change discourse include articulation of a Theory of Change, distinctions between horizontal and vertical change, potential immediate openings (e.g. K-12 Music Teacher Education), and the situating of discipline specific reform within overarching worldview considerations.

Colleagues in the performing arts will likely default to some form of Eurocanonic-based modernism as this comprises the dominant ideology.

Colleagues in the humanities will default to unexamined post-modern assumptions or variants thereof for the same reason.

Colleagues in the sciences will by the same account default to overt materialist assumptions, with implicit materialism serving as an overarching backdrop for the entire academy.

The world is waiting for individuals and institutions to move beyond talk about change and leadership and deliver a new educational paradigm that guides humanity to its next evolutionary vistas.

Identification of Gateway Pillars as the basis for establishing ICAST grids on as many campuses as possible will be a key step in the creativity/consciousness revolution.

What ICAST Will Do

Create teams for each of the pillars related to creativity and consciousness as noetic gateways on college/university campuses. These teams will highlight how noetic approaches surpass prevailing methods and develop proposals for curriculum and research enhancements.

Establish an ICAST Facilitator Training Program topreppare  individuals to leads ICAST activities on campus and in their communities.

Form a global network of individuals, institutions and organizations that supports the ICAST leadership vision and serves as a unified voice for significant and transformative change.

Organize symposia/festivals uniting practitioners from diverse fields to foster idea sharing, collaboration, and inspire change activism. Participants will include government, corporate, spiritual/religious, and societal leaders, as well as professionals from arts, athletics, and various activist groups (environmental, social justice, etc.), alongside educators, to broaden dialogue and action.

Foster collaboration between mainstream and consciousness-driven institutions for joint programs and research.

The University of Michigan Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies will serve the first hub that oversees the ICAST Network.

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Integral Theory

While the term ‘integral’ has a long history, the philosopher Ken Wilber has articulated an IT model that is both massive in the range of perspectives–philosophical, spiritual, psychological, aesthetic, cultural, etc.–that it interweaves, but also its applicability to virtually all areas of human endeavor.  ICAST’s spirituality/arts/science foundations correlate directly with IT’s first-second-third person realities and related epistemologies.

See further commentary under Pillar #1 below.

Noetic Sciences

ICAST’s connection with Noetic Sciences is largely inspired by the important work done at Institute for Noetic Sciences, founded by Edgar Mitchell to promote inquiry into the farther reaches of consciousness and human creative and spiritual potential Isee http://noetic.org.)

See further commentary under Pillar #1 below.

Afrofuturism

Important sources here include: Afrofuturism 2.0, particularly its essays dealing with consciousness/spirituality; phycisist Stephan Alexander’s work at the intersection of Quantum mechanics, jazz and Vedanta (see ee Fear of a Black Universe and the Jazz of Physics and Fear of a Black Universe;Robert Blauval’s and Thomas Brophy’s work in astroarcheology, see African Genesis; and Edward Bynum’s Our Black Subconscious: The African Origins of Mysticism and Psychology.

See further commentary under Pillar #1 below.

Apaurasheya Bhasha

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Apaurusheya Bhashya, commentary on Rig Veda, offers an extraordinary account of how the vast diversity of creation sequentially unfolds from the self-referral dynamics of the eternal, silent—yet infinitely dynamic—cosmic source reverberating within itself. Inherent in this cosmic play of creation, or lila, is the interplay of subject, process and object, or rishi, devata and chandas dimensions (the basis for Integral Theory’s first-second-third person realities) in every instant of space, time and experience. Two important principles emerge that are key to music’s transformative potential. From a structural standpoint, the primordial vibrations or frequencies that comprise the basic building blocks of creation manifest in musical sounds. From a process standpoint, the improvisatory core of musical creativity is a direct manifestation of cosmic improvisatory creativity, thus supporting the idea of improvisation as a primordial process.
(See Pillar #1 commentary—under read more).