Academic Programs For Psychedelics Are Growing

Studies in Psychedelic Justice, a new program offered by Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines, begins May 3 with the first of three courses (and a one-time workshop) designed to fill what Chacruna identifies as a void in the psychedelic space. Chacruna has been a leader in the fields of psychedelic education and reciprocity and has worked to protect psychedelic and sacred plants, as well as the cultural and spiritual traditions with which they intertwine. Registration is open now, and participants who bundle the three courses and the workshop save 20% on the total price ($1,760).

The series is open to professionals in any field. It also presents a unique opportunity for people interested in the burgeoning world of psychedelic investment to understand the history, context, and possible future of psychedelic science and culture.

Explosive growth is on the horizon for the psychedelic future. As psychedelic-assisted therapies become more widespread, and as medicines including MDMA and psilocybin near full FDA approval, the psychedelic drug market in North America is anticipated to grow to $3.184 billion by 2026. More academic programs across the country, from UC Berkeley to Harvard University, are springing up to train therapists, scientists, journalists, and clergy to step into careers where psychedelics are making significant impacts. Chacruna’s program is designed for professionals grounded in these disciplines, as well as for anyone interested in an informed approach to the psychedelic renaissance.

Bia Labate, PhD, Chacruna Institute’s Executive Director, shares that “Chacruna Institute’s Studies in Psychedelic Justice is a unique offering,” she says. “We combine academic excellence with a compassionate approach towards social justice issues. Amidst the explosion of training in the emergent field of psychedelics, the shamanic and spiritual roots of the psychedelic movement as well as marginalized contributions in both healing and research by women, queer people, Indigenous peoples, people of color, and the Global South, are frequently excluded from the mainstream narrative.”

She added, “We need healers and therapists that have a deep humanistic worldview, grounded in historical and cultural traditions and not just biomedical peer-reviewed articles.”

The exciting diversity within the psychedelic field, as well as the need for equitable and inclusive access to these medicines, is a topic Dr. Darron Smith (University of Memphis Department of Sociology) will consider in his class, “Understanding Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Role of Entheogens in Healing the Racial Divide” (part of the Diversity, Culture, and Social Justice Course).

“My class lays the foundation for discussions that will happen in the rest of the program,” Smith says. “The course is designed to provide participants with some basic information they need to know to get the most out of the program. We’re talking about terms they may not be familiar with, hot button subject matter that generally inflames passions, mostly a result of not knowing the subject matter.”

The class, which will focus on how psychedelics might heal racial trauma and division, will also address our contemporary moment. “As you look around the country, you’re seeing an attempt to regulate thought due to ingrained fear that white Americans have about these kinds of topics,” says Smith. “The psychedelic world has a lot of well-intentioned white people in the movement, but they still bring their prejudices and ideas about the way they think the world should be with them. We have a lot of work to do to unpack that and try to live up to Dr. King’s ideas of the Beloved Community.”

Chacruna Institute has long been a trailblazer in psychedelic studies, and the new program will “continue to promote and nourish the creation of a new generation of psychedelic therapists and practitioners who are more needed than ever as we move forward with this psychedelic renaissance,” according to Labate. The work done at the institute has inspired many of the universities and other institutions – like Stanford University, Naropa University, CIIS, Vital, Psychiatry Institute, Psychedelic Support, and others – that are now offering psychedelics training and studies, many of which assign books and articles created at Chacruna. Chacruna has also been an incubator space for students and team members, who have gone on to work as advisors and consultants both outside of and within the organization.

Studies in Psychedelic Justice feature distinguished professors and experts working on the leading edge of psychedelic studies in fields including law, the sciences, anthropology, psychology, conservation, and more.

“There has never been a course with so many accomplished diversity experts in one training to advance the work of psychedelic healing,” says Dr. Monnica T. Williams (Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Disparities). Williams is teaching multiple classes in the program, including “Psychedelics and Racial Justice: Equity and Access.” Other faculty members include Dr. NiCole T. Buchanan (Michigan State University and Alliance Psychological Associates), Dr. Gul Dölen (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Joseph Mays, MSc (Program Director of Chacruna’s Indigenous Reciprocity Initiative of the Americas), and Dr. Natalie Gukasyan (Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University and a psychiatrist).

Studies in Psychedelic Justice opens with Diversity, Culture and Social Justice in Psychedelics (May 3-June 28), followed by The Science of Psychedelic Healing (July 9-August 9) and Buchanan’s one-day implicit bias workshop on July 27. The final series, the 16-week Roots of Psychedelic Therapy: Shamanism, Ritual and Traditional Uses of Sacred Plants, runs August 16-November 29. Students who bundle will also receive a one-year membership to Chacruna.

Chacruna’s past programming has included conferences, courses, workshops, panels, and trainings on diverse topics within the psychedelic renaissance. The organization just wrapped the Religion and Psychedelics Forum, a three-day exploration of this theme from leading members of the psychedelic community. Studies in Psychedelic Justice are a notable new entry in their offerings.

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