New UC Berkeley, Harvard project will study psychedelics’ effect on art, history - and existence

UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics


Among the questions the initiative will explore: What might psychedelics reveal about how societies change? How have they shaped music, history and art? Can they shed new light on age-old questions about what it means to be human, to think and to exist?

On November 15, the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University announced a new, collaborative initiative that will expand psychedelic research across the arts, humanities and social sciences. Called "Psychedelics in Society and Culture,- the joint effort between the nation’s foremost public and private universities will foster new ways of thinking and partnering to answer some of the most pressing and intriguing

"This new initiative of UC Berkeley and Harvard will delve into new areas of essential psychedelic inquiry,- Pollan said. "How might psychedelics affect our relationship with death or the natural world or our understanding of consciousness? What roles have psychedelics historically played in social change or religion? The possibilities for research and collaboration are endless, exciting, and will have the potential to shed fresh light on these

Flourish Trust - an organization committed to catalyzing the healing and regeneration of humanity and the planet - has generously donated $1 million to fund the UC Berkeley grants over three years.

"The enormous potential of psychedelics for healing isn’t limited to their biological effects," said Flourish Trust director Christiana Musk. "For millennia, natural psychedelic plants have played a significant role in cultural development and meaning-making. This program will open doors of understanding into how these compounds have helped shape society and how we might navigate them to the benefit of humanity.-

Meet the Academic Centers Leading the Initiative

CICI is a gathering place for critical and creative inquiry aimed at addressing the key political, social, religious and cultural issues facing society through collaboration. "Literature and the arts have a longstanding historical relationship with altered states of perception and consciousness that yield new visions of what it means to be in the world," said center faculty director Debarati Sanyal. "The Psychedelics in Society and Culture collaboration between Berkeley and Harvard aims to explore the role that psychedelics continue to play in that story and to support creative and critical inquiry into what is now a burgeoning interdisciplinary field.-

"The resurgence of interest in psychedelics provokes many questions about our relationship with these substances, the role they play in our society, and what they reveal about human nature,- said Imran Khan, executive director of BCSP, the interdisciplinary center at Berkeley focused on psychedelics research, public education and training. "This new joint psychedelics research program between UC Berkeley and Harvard will help answer some of those