Why is educational reform so essential? What about other types of socio-cultural-economic-political reform?

Education is also both a direct reflection of prevailing societal patterns as well as the single-most influential agency through which those patterns may be transformed, simply simply due to the degree of contact schooling has with a majority of the population. ICAST is predicated on a transformative continuum that starts in higher education, where public school teachers and administrators/policy makers are trained and transmit their visions to current and future generations of students. This is why, given ICAST’s vision of arts-driven transformation, a new paradigm of music teacher education and certification is so essential and could be a powerful catalyst for broader change within and beyond the arts.

However, ICAST does not approach educational reform in isolation, but rather situates it within multiple lines of change advocacy (e.g. the 20-plus ICAST pillars: ecosustainability, peace building, etc.)

But how does this thinking hold given current and even longstanding attacks on teachers’ creativity and pedagogical freedom (which can be traced also to decades of increasing emphasis on test scores)? 

This is why educational reform needs to be approached along with closely related topics such as transcending political/ideological divides.

Why the arts, and Black music/jazz within the arts, as a central change catalyst within the academy?

The arts bridge the sciences, which are privileged within the academy, with spirituality/consciousness, which is largely excluded. Science/spirituality polarization is unsustainable for the future of humanity. Spirituality/art/science synthesis is pivotal to the way forward. Within the arts, Black music and aesthetics, and particularly jazz, encompass the epistemological spectrum–with the improvisation/meditation relationship as central–that exemplifies the spirituality/art/science synergy. This, in turn, has the capacity to transform and galvanize all the arts and render them the revolutionary catalyst at the heart of the ICAST mission.

What about European classical music? Other genres?

All music and art forms are important. Here it is essential to recognize the centrality of improvisation in earlier eras of the European tradition and also to most musical traditions around the globe. Jazz/Black music is key to foregrounding this core creative epistemology, which in turn will revitalize conventional practice–as in the interpretive performance of European classical music. Different art forms will integrate improvisation in different ways and to different degrees. However, improvisatory awareness applies to all musical and other arts forms and even humanities and sciences.

What about the sciences within ICAST’s arts-driven thrust?

The sciences are not only essential, but an expanded model of science is needed that opens up to, and thus unites with art and spirituality.

 But many academics view science/spirituality synergy as compromising the integrity of science.

Why settle for a narrow and rigid science, when–inspired by the long legacy of science icons, including Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Planck and others–an expansive and inclusive science is not only readily available, but brimming with promise for science taking its next evolutionary strides.

Is there not a parallel here with music studies and its longstanding aversion to broadening its horizons (beyond tokenistic modifications), particularly involving improvisation–even though this process was central to the artistry (and pedagogy) of the European icons to which music schools long have paid homage?

Exactly! Just as Bohr and Planck resonated with the Vedantic view of consciousness as primary in creation, a premise that connects with spirtiual traditions across the globe, Clara Schumann, JS Bach and W.A Mozart were consummate improvisers.

How does improvisation work in physics and mathematics, painting and poetry, architecture and athletics, biology and business, politics and peace activism?

A central premise in the emergent improvisation-across-fields movement is that improvisation is central to all forms of human creativity and engagement. This can be understood in terms of heightened presence, moment-to-moment decision-making, interconnectedness with others, adaptability, liberation from conditioned ways of thinking and action and openess to anomalous possibilities. Humanity has reached a crossroads where global improvisation is essential.

Why is the improvisation-meditation relationship, as exemplified in jazz, so valuable across fields?

Improvisation may be thought of a transcendent pathway that proceeds from physical or mental engagement (peak experiences or flow invoked in sport, music, emergency response, etc.) and meditation a transcendent pathway invoked in silence.  As beneficial as the processes are independently, their synergistic impact even more greatly underscores their value.

Is it really possible to authentically teach meditation in academic settings? What about the syndrome whereby practices are extricated from their respective cultural heritages and theoretical/philosophical contexts, and thus taught largely from the standpoint of stress reduction?

What about the opposite concern, involving potential church-state infractions inherent in situating meditation instruction within traditional contexts?

Here is where the academy needs to reinvent itself atop new principles, for which new conversation needs to transpire both within higher education and in society at large. For one thing, church-state boundaries in no way preclude making spiritual practice available of diverse kinds to students. Unfortunately, this is a flash-point topic around which both liberals and conservative voices often succumb to kneejerk, polarizing reactions. ICAST advocates a new wave of policy around this topic called Soul-State Integration. Again, informed and respectful exchange around ICAST pillars such as transcending political/ideological divides and addressing religious/scientific extremism will be essential. Critical interrogation of common, often divisive terminology, including “liberal”and “conservative” and “science” and “religion” will also be pivotal.  The soul level is where these concepts unite and revealed as co-evolutionary; education that neglects cultivation of soul awareness is no education at all.

How can we be so sure materialism is defunct?  Isn’t the post-materialist perspective as conducive to its own set of biases?  Are debates around the nature of consciousness really over within ICAST’s post-materialist vision?

ICAST is committed to ongoing debates about the nature of consciousness, which  is arguably the most foundational question around which liberal education ought to be constructed. However, ICAST changes the narrative for such debates: Instead of uncritically privileging materialism and placing the explanatory onus on post-materialist (or pre-materialist) perspectives, ICAST provisionally foregrounds post-materialism as a basis for paradigmatically new interventions that may be key to the future of humanity and places the onus on materialists to make their case.

Why does ICAST view the athlete as artist and visionary?

The athlete is a profound artist that unites robust improvisatory expression (not only in sports such as basketball, football, soccer and hockey, but all athletic domains)  with deep transcendent experience, often enhanced by–mirroring the jazz tradition–engagement with meditation and related consciousness-based modalities. The athlete is thus an important source of wisdom–albeit not often recognized as such (particularly in the academy)–for the future of education and the future of humanity.  


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.


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).