Bon courage, Women’s Spirituality of ITP
I am very sad to report that the Women’s Spirituality program at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology is being closed down. Apparently shortly after I graduated, the much-beloved president died, though this was not a surprise. A new president was selected, apparently without enough searching into his background… because — and here I condense and simplify considerably — he proceeded to spend the school’s comfortable chunk of extra budget in expensive junkets to supposedly bring in more students, changed the school’s very clear and descriptive name and logo to things which were (respectively) less clear and very ugly, convinced over three quarters of the Board of Directors to quit, declared a financial emergency, fired almost half the faculty and staff when they objected and asked where the hell the money had gone, and then sold the school to a Chinese conglomerate which was interested in creating an engineering school which also taught some Eastern philosophy.
Needless to say, the school that emerged from this is very different from the ITP where I studied. As a single example, they’re not interested at all in Women’s Spirituality, and so are not supporting it whatsoever. Further, the three women who started this marvelous program have been running it for about 15 years now. Two of them are either retired or retiring, and the third is getting closer to that point. Moving the program to another school would not be easy — tragically, there are very few schools which would be interested in such a program. One of the few that would be already has a Women’s Spirituality PhD program — it’s CIIS, where I’m going to school now — but even they have effectively changed the MA program into something else. It used to be Women’s Spirituality; now it’s something like Women, Gender, Activism, & Spirituality… or something similar; I don’t recall precisely. Basically, in an effort by the school to be inclusive of other genders, one of the last places where women can learn about themselves and their history has been lost. The only other program I know of that skates anywhere close to the subject is in Germany: Dr. Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s International Academy for Modern Matriarchal Studies and Matriarchal Spirituality (HAGIA).
I find the closing of the ITP Women’s Spirituality MA program to be a tremendous loss which makes me very sad. The program was quite literally life-changing for me — and I do not use that phrase lightly. Further, for seeking women there is now no other truly comparable program anywhere in the entire world. As friends have told me in an effort to be encouraging, the individual classes and teachers are still scattered around the Bay Area, so someone could still theoretically get all the teaching. However, there are two issues with this: first, the purported student would not end up with the MA — which can make a difference in one’s CV. Second, part of the reason the program was so dramatic for me was because it included required classes which (were I picking and choosing classes from professors and teachers all around the Bay) I would have skipped as not really important or relevant — and yet they were — incredibly important and an extremely relevant part of the process of life change and growth which the program encouraged.
So this is my goodbye to the Women’s Spirituality program, with my deepest thanks to all its wise and compassionate professors, and all my wonderful sister scholars. I offer the program my regrets for its loss, my fondest memories of growing and laughing and tears and courage, and my deepest wishes that someday it will be reborn, to burn brightly once more for women and men of great heart everywhere.