Harvard and UC Berkeley's Mind-Expanding Mission, Pioneering Psychedelics' Influence on Society with Million-Dollar Trust

Harvard and UC Berkeley's Mind-Expanding Mission, Pioneering Psychedelics' Influence on Society with Million-Dollar TrustSource: Google Street View
Tony Ng
Published on November 28, 2023

Harvard and UC Berkeley are taking a trip far out of the traditional academic lane, and this time it’s all about psychedelics. These Ivy League and public universities are joining forces to dig deep into how psychedelics have tripped up and transformed society and culture throughout history. The bold exploratory initiative, dubbed "Psychedelics in Society and Culture," is armed with a bounteous budget, as CBS News San Francisco reported, aiming to dish out up to $100,000 in grants.

The pockets for this psychedelic pursuit come courtesy of the Flourish Trust, which dropped a million dollars into UC Berkeley’s coffers, channeling a vested interest in how "natural psychedelic plants have played a significant role in cultural development and meaning-making" as the organization’s director, Christiana Musk, stated via Berkeley's Office of Research. "The possibilities for research, and collaboration are endless," Pollan stated, his enthusiasm frothing over the potential to answer soul-searching questions on the interplay between psychedelics, consciousness, and even our dealings with death.

Leading the charge on this trip through time and perception are the UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP), the Center for Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry, and Harvard's Mahindra Humanities Center. Together, they’re breaking the mold and challenging what we know about psychedelics’ influence—from Indigenous rituals to the frontiers of patent ethics and philosophical ponderings. "This new joint psychedelics research program between UC Berkeley and Harvard will help answer some of those questions—and hopefully reveal just as many new ones," Imran Khan, executive director of BCSP, revealed to Berkeley's Office of Research.

The call to arms for academics eager to surf the psychedelic research wave officially kicks off on December 15, with UC Berkeley and Harvard ready to field proposals that range from scholarly to public events and even arts programming, as per the intriguing details in the Psychedelics in Society and Culture program page.