Human understanding of consciousness is undergoing a rapid and unprecedented shift in scientific attention. The increasing sophistication of brain imaging technologies, advances in resuscitation science, new collaborations between scientists and practitioners of contemplative traditions, and the conceptual power of quantum physics offer a breathtaking new paradigm of reality that is Copernican in its scope and implications. Unlike the materialist paradigm that has dominated the philosophy and practice of Western science for the past 400 years, this new paradigm asserts consciousness to be the primary force in an ever expanding multiverse, one that makes possible our experience of physical reality and so much more.
The emergence of this new paradigm at this critical juncture in human history is highly significant. Since its inception in the 17th century, Western science has played a pivotal role in revealing to us the nature of the universe and life within it. Naturally, science has become the modern day authority on how the "Big Questions" of our existence are investigated and answered. As a tool and system of inquiry, science excels in this role of exploration and discovery. However, scientific paradigms can become a form of dogma, resisting the scientific revolutions of thinking and discovery that always, eventually, make these old paradigms obsolete and even dangerous. Although bringing innumerable benefits to our world, the materialist paradigm has created unprecedented challenges that threaten the continued existence of humankind and the biosphere.
As Einstein warned us long ago, “No problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it.” We know all too well what problems are caused by the materialist mindset. We also know that a profoundly different mindset is necessary to solve them. It is here where Consciousness itself is the key.
Over the past 150 years an increasingly robust body of scientific data has demonstrated the vast nature, scope, and power of the mind. Ancient spiritual practices like meditation and yoga yield intricate maps of consciousness with its possibilities and permutations. Clinical cartographies gathered from millions of people who have survived encounters with death - and returned to life thanks to advances in resuscitation science - demonstrate that consciousness is vast and multidimensional, a primary force of existence we are only beginning to comprehend. Impressive evidence from ancient and contemporary dreamers prove that we can harness the power of dreams to reveal creations and solutions that cannot be perceived within the confines of the rational waking mind.
This collective body of knowledge and wisdom is increasingly embraced by the general public thanks to the great work of scientists and scholars like Rupert Sheldrake, Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Dean Radin, Alan Wallace, Jeremy Narby, William James, Stanley Krippner, Pim Van Lommel, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne, Larry Dossey, Charles Tart, Robert Waggoner, and many, many others. Unfortunately, it has yet to be embraced by mainstream academia because of the taboo which has excluded it from serious consideration. This can and must change if we are to advance our understanding of the mind and the nature of our reality, evolving as a species in a way that is interconnected with and responsible to the Earth.
This is the task that the initiative for CERC has undertaken: to educate a new generation of scholars and scientists who are prepared to take consciousness seriously, and to propel the study of consciousness into the next century and beyond. Its mission is to recruit faculty, expand the undergraduate program to include both a Minor and a Major in Consciousness as well as a transdisciplinary Ph.D., generate original research, and host community educational forums for professionals and the general public. We will also invite the leading minds in the field to brainstorm and broadcast educational curricula that can be widely disseminated and prepare a new generation of Consciousness scientists and scholars. On behalf of all the students, alumni, and colleagues who are committed to this cause, we invite you to join us.