The International Consortium for Academic and Societal Transformation
- Humanity has reached a crossroads, where nothing short of an arts-driven revolution in creativity and consciousness/spirituality will suffice to address the challenges—as well as opportunities for growth—that are unique to our time.
- The revolution will need take hold in the world’s educational systems if it is to manifest in society.
- Consciousness—understood from a post-materialist, noetic perspective—is the next major educational and societal frontier.
- Creativity and the arts—approached from a consciousness-based perspective—are the primary vehicle. Whereas conventional education is rooted in a science-spirituality divide, a noetic arts paradigm is key to spirituality/arts/science synthesis.
- Improvisation and meditation are the epistemological anchors for the revolution, spawning a rich epistemic circuitry through which creativity and consciousness may flow throughout all aspects of the educational system and are thus transmitted to society.
- Within the arts, jazz—among the most epistemologically diverse knowledge systems in the history of the academy—and a Black aesthetics yield an ethno/epistemic template that can be applied across fields and propel all areas within the arts, humanities and sciences to new evolutionary vistas.
- Existing disciplines are re-enlivened, new disciplines come into existence, and significantly new approaches emerge for the most pressing issues of the present historical moment—including ecosustainability, racial justice, healing political and ideological divides, peace building, economic disparity, and the challenges posed by AI and other technological advances when disconnected from consciousness.
- There is no middle ground:
- 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.
The time has come for individuals and institutions with leadership aspirations to step up and guide what may be among the most impactful revolutions in our life time.
To promote an arts-driven revolution in creativity and consciousness in education and society.
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 dig deep into its infinite reservoir of creative potential and 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 the spirituality/art/science synthesis, with a 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 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.
- 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.
15 ICAST PILLARS
ICAST sets forth 15 interconnected pillars for the creativity-consciousness revolution.
1Post-materialist Consciousness/Spirituality Paradigm
Unlike prevailing materialist views in academia, ICAST embraces a post-material perspective on consciousness. It combines ancient spiritual wisdom with cutting-edge science to foster individual and societal transformation. This includes enhanced well-being, clarity, compassion, self-awareness, and creativity in students, along with collective consciousness initiatives such as large meditation gatherings for societal healing.
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).
2Improvisation, Art, Soul, Cosmos
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.
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.
3Transdisciplinarity, 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.
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.
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.
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.
5Beyond 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.
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.
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.
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.
7Science, 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.
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).
8Religious, 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.
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.
9Healing 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.
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.
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.
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.
11Public 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.
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.
12Artists and Athletes as Change Visionaries
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.
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.
13Enlivening 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.
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. .
14Navigating 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.
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.
15Changing 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.
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.
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.
Five central pillars provide an initial nucleus for the grids:
• Post-materialist Consciousness
• Noetic Arts Advocacy
• Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism
• K-12 Noetic Education
• Noetic Sport
The basic idea is that the establishment of these core faculty/student clusters, which represent a considerable disciplinary spread, may initiate substantive conversation and action—which can be furthered by additional clusters/themes—on a given campus. However, it is not necessary to follow this sequence; sufficient faculty/student interest around any theme may catalyze cross-campus engagement.
Most important is that the clusters work both independently and interdependently to propel the shift toward noetic, creativity/consciousness.
Post-materialist Consciousness-Spirituality cluster (Pillar #1)
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.
Post-DEI Noetic Pluralism cluster (Pillar #3)
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.
Noetic Arts Advocacy: Improvisation, Sound, Soul, Cosmos cluster (Pillar #2)
Cross-disciplinary exploration of the place of the arts, and particularly improvised musical art, in the spirituality/art/science synthesis.
K-12 Public Education cluster (Pillar #7)
Cross-disciplinary exploration of the importance of K-12 teacher/administrator
educational programs in linking academic transformation to societal transformation.
Noetic Sports Leadership cluster (Pillar #8)
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.
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.
What ICAST Will Do
Form a global network of individuals, institutions and organizations that support the ICAST leadership vision and serve as a unified voice for significant and transformative change.
Create teams for each of the 15 pillars related to creativity and consciousness as noetic gateways. These teams will highlight how noetic approaches surpass prevailing methods and develop proposals for curriculum and research enhancements.
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.
Establish ICAST hubs on multiple college/university campuses, with the University of Michigan Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies as the first overseeing hub.