The future belongs to the institution that both recognizes and creates
a market for a new boundaryless, fearless pedagogy, clearly distinct
from the process of evaluating and giving credentials. -J. J. O'Donnell1
Take perhaps the three outstanding world problems at this time:
environmental, economic, and cultural.... Nothing less than worldcentric
[integral] or global methodologies are even capable of grasping the nature
and extent of these issues, let alone solving them. -K. Wilber2
Humans, we have Fear Problem. It is almost a cliche today to say fear is not the problem but how we manage it can be. While that is partially true no doubt, the larger issue of importance is the problem of methodology applied to our knowledge-making about fear and how to manage it. Characteristically, current knowledges about fear are not critical enough of their methodology and methods and lack a critical praxis of pointing to their own limitations. As well we have the problem of many leaders in history who believe and teach that humans are better motivated by fear than love, as former US Pres. Richard Nixon is famously known to claim: "People react to fear, not love--they don't teach that in Sunday school, but it's true." And my point is, that just because something is true doesn't mean it is right (ethically) nor even real (existentially or spiritually). And more so, my own research on this topic shows that a good case can be made that fearlessness is actually a better motivator than love or fear. Several publications on this topic are available at the end of this webpage and I encourage you to all look at publications I have online (e.g., search Google Scholar for my name). -R. M. Fisher
DIFS is dedicated to understanding the dynamics of the human Fear Problem and preventing one of its major contemporary forms in what many critics call the "culture of fear." Like no where else in the world. Our department is a location for curious, critical, innovative, and serious learners to study applied and theoretical fearology and applications of a uniquely created methodology fearanalysis (see pdf below), based on a fearlessness paradigm. Dr. Fisher is an expert on this topic and has united this work under the label (based on 25 yrs study) of the Fearlessness Movement, which he coined.
The departments is also dedicated to understanding the intimate, and troubled relationship between the arch-emotions LOVE and FEAR or what I have called most recently a theory of meta-motivations around the concept of a Love-Fear Ecology which grounds human behavior along a foundation of risk management and fear management in relation to love (see Love-Fear Ecology model and 4 Principles of Meta-motivation). The best portrayal in an entertaining and disturbing portrait of the culture of fear (in America) is Michael Moore's Oscar-winning documentary film Bowling for Columbine (2002).The next best, in a sci-fi format film is The Wachowski's The Matrix trilogy (1999-2004). See our intro 12 wk. online course DIFS 230 "Fighting Back: Transforming the Culture of Fear."
Yet, one of the most basic problems we face as 21st century learners, or experienced fearologists, is "How to Best Define Fear?" Everyone has an opinion, a perspective and maybe a theory or philosophy of what is the nature and role of fear. DIFS begins the whole inquiry upon a premise: we may not know as much (accurately) as we think we do when it comes to fear, or what I have labeled 'fear'. For more detailed account of this problem of defining fear (and 'fear') see "An Introduction to Defining 'Fear': A Spectrum Approach."
I set up this department with one of its key approaches being the study of all things Integral. DIFS aims at providing students and colleagues with the best up-to-date methods for a comparative study of integralism, integral philosophies, theories, and paradigms of practices.This is our interest in a meta-integral perspective on all things 'integral.' Such a broad, deep, and critically self-reflective interest is uncommon in any field. The continual refinement of what is and is not an "integral study," or "integral perspective," or "integral theory" and what constitutes high quality integral practice, is one primary focus of our inquiries at DIFS, while acknowledging there are many forms of integralism and integralist thought and politics3. We believe it is important to develop some consensual criteria among integralists of what constitutes a "Critical Integral Standard" for integral work. I'm currently focusing on integral counseling and what that constitutes and how best to practice it (a website will be set up for that soon). The other branch of my own research is identifying ideologies within the Integral Movement today, especially with how the hegemony of functionalism and pragmatism have combined to water down Ken Wilber's integral thought and take it away from a critical (conflict) theory analysis. I have dubbed this appropriation negatively as an ideology of "neo-Wilberianism."
As Head, my own commitment and expertise is primarily with the integral work of John Heron and Ken Wilber (and their followers), representing two contemporary conflicting and complementary schools of thought that are significant, particularly in the fields of Transpersonal Studies, Healing and Therapy, Psychology and Spirituality, Sociology, Anthropology and Politics, Law and Business, Cultural Studies and Education in general. Wilber influences most of my teaching, models and approaches at this time of my life and career.
A comparative study of these forms is essential to constructing one's own integral approach, attitude and integral life, that includes and transcends other approaches to reality. As for methodological ways, our department encourages masculine (and masculinist), feminine (and feminist), phallic and matrixial (pre-gender analysis), queer, premodern, modern, postmodern, post-postmodern, and embraces learners and researches developing and co-developing enactive trans(per)formances of theory and applications through poetics, art as compassion, magic, trance, ritual, and matrixial approaches (a la Bracha L. Ettinger) to counter overly-phallic hegemonic approaches that tend to be fear-based. The methodological spectrum is at your finger tips and new media technologies can bring inquiries to new life in the real and cyberworlds of our day. We'll not limit the critical exploration of knowledge to intellectualization alone, yet, we embrace intellectual rigor at the same time.
One of our purposes is to build an integral critical literacy to evaluate initiatives and impacts of the Integral Movement and its solutions to world problems. This provides a solid basis for co-creating new innovations in academic, professional and public spheres as we aim to meet the challenges of the future and an emerging, yet fragile Integral Age. Our Courses: with 30 courses on the books listed, be sure to check out the courses in all capital letters, they are ready for registrants now. If you are interested in other courses send the department head (Michael) an email to be sure you get on a list for when that course becomes available. You'll be contacted first.
DIFS was founded on one of the core concerns identified as the Human Fear Problem that is associated with a coping culture instead of a healing culture. The modern philosophers have always been concerned about the "problem of man" and this can be added to as "the problem of fear" (see diagram below). Developing a philosophy of fear and fearlessness today is imperative. The relationship between Integral Studies (integral studies defined) and Fear ('Fear') Studies4 is a specialized interest of DIFS due to the very definition of "integral" in Spiral Dynamic theory--for e.g., integral is a consciousness structure (and v-meme) whereby one's way of seeing, analyzing, valuing and synthesizing is no longer primarily motivated by fear. This creates a developmental research and pedagogical interest as to how to attain a critical integral attitude and perspective that is embodied and actualized effectively along a spectrum of fear management systems (i.e., path of fearlessness)5. Our department takes seriously the discourses of "the paradigm shift" many are calling for in all walks of life, from a "paradigm of fear" (and its culture of fear) to a "paradigm of love," (culture of trust) yet, this phenomena is not being studied and problematized, especially from an integral perspective. A good deal of important research is required in this area.
Many study fear and fears, across the disciplines, yet it is integrally important to study fear(s) in the context of a critical theory. I teach a complex model of Domination-Conflict-Fear-Violence, where the cycle of hurting is directly linked to the cycle of fear/terror/violence. See the DIFS course "How We Are Hurt And How We Heal" as a basic introduction to this core model and praxis.
The combination of integral and 'Fear' Studies (a meta-fear perspective) is seen as unique to DIFS and essential to creating an expanding consciousness and actualizing of wisdom and compassion, required for a more ethical world. Dr. Fisher has done extensive research, writing and art exhibitions on the culture of fear problem (e.g., Museum of Fearology); for a review of his work click here RMF Culture of Fear. This ethical world will only appear as the cultural pathology of the "culture of fear" dynamic (and its pedagogy of fear) is undermined and transformed to a culture of truth, love, trust and justice (i.e., fearlessness pedagogy). This combination also forms the basis for the establishment of a critical integral theory and praxis, which is generally underdeveloped in the Integral Movement. If you are someone who sees the world ruled by fear, then you are likely to be attracted to study with us. The department attempts to ground both integral and 'fear' studies in the tradition of existentialism and yet hold a transpersonal perspective (nondual) on ontology and epistemology on human development. I'm now working on a theory of existential-integral. Pedagogical implications of this relationship are continually being researched and applied to the teaching in DIFS.
DIFS has a particular focus on bringing the best of integral and 'fear' studies to the domains of leadership in the largest sense, and pedagogy in formal, informal, and nonformal sites. Ultimately, such studies and experiences of "integral" need to be taught and learned integrally. Much of the department's focus is designing better critical integral education which informs practices, courses, programs, research and interventions at the individual and collective levels.In this regards we invite you, professionals, institutions, researchers, leaders, to help build (co-build) a strong department of teaching, research and service of mutual benefit.
DIFS is based on an emerging philosophy of fearlessness (see below) and path of fearlessness, in terms of inquiry and rigor. We look to attract leaders of all kinds, activists, educators, therapists, artists, caregivers, managers, parents, consultants, and especially young people to co-construct a unique emancipatory education for the 21st century that truly enacts "new boundaryless fearless pedagogy."
Programs, Credits & Logistics
To check out our department courses see DIFS designated titles. To obtain a Certificate with a specialty in Integral & 'Fear' Studies, students must have at least 60% of their course credits accumulated from DIFS. Your program selection may emphasize one or the other area, integral or 'fear' studies, but you are expected to take courses in both areas. To qualify for a CSIIE general Certificate in Spiritual & Integral Studies you need a minimum of 60 course credits with no time restriction to achieving them. Course credits are set by each instructor and are assigned to learners if they achieve at least "Satisfactory" as a grade in the course.
We also offer an Integral Map 21 Certificate, based on different criteria. For details see course (program) enititled DIFS 311.
The following document describes in detail the current DIFS research agenda: DIFS(research)
A current research project, for the long-term, is the study of matrixiality via especially the work of artist-philosopher-activist-artist Bracha L. Ettinger (whom I predict will be the next Freud in terms of impact on developmental thinking and aesthetics and ethics of the feminine in a pre-gendered register that includes but transcends feminisms). I see Ettinger's work as both very integral in many ways and very much a foundational theory for a subjectivity beyond a fear-based one which the phallic sphere has given us humans (especially in the modern West). So, if you'd like to dive into this radical work by Ettinger I'd recommend first reading Griselda Pollock's analysis of over 20 years of Ettinger's arts-based phenomenology and artworkings, upon which trauma (individual and historical) is a key element-- download one of Pollock's papers here for an introduction to matrixial philosophy and theory of matrixiality, a feminine aesthetic practice.
1. O'Donnell, J. J. (2000). Avatars of the word: From papyrus to cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p. 189.
2. Wilber, K. (2010). Afterword: The dawn of an Integral Age. In S. Esbjorn-Hargens (Ed.), Integral theory and action: Applied, theoretical, and constructive perspectives on the AQAL model (pp. 431-33). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, p. 432.
3. Integralism has various historical, religious and secular political uses, besides being a philosophy, theory and methodology. CSIIE and DIFS does not adopt any particular political or religious use of the term as dogma, and in some cases critiques and discourages association with (mis-)uses of the term by some religious and new political parties.
4. 'Fear' Studies is a term created by R. Michael Fisher, while fear studies in general is a term used generically to refer to all kinds of studies about fear. 'Fear' with (') marks is Fisher's coding for the word that is not necessarily meaning what the average dictionary or encyclopedia may say it is. The term is under deconstruction and reconstruction in search of an integral definition (meaning), and ultimately it will have multiple definitions and meanings depending on perspectives taken. See Fisher, R. M. (2006). Invoking 'Fear' Studies. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 22(4), 39-71.
5. According to Fisher, in his book The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2010), there are 10 major fear management systems that have evolved in this history of our species so far.
To contact the Dept. Head: r.michaelfisher [at]yahoo.com or 618-529-1166
Our department is conducting a research survey on values, if you'd like to participate it would be greatly appreciated. Go to the link here and download the survey and send back your results in an email. We would gladly give you results of our interpretation of your survey if you ask (Michael).
Yellowpaper(s) (by RMF)
Department Yellow Papers (like White Papers by think-tanks) are written by our Heads and other faculty sporadically to capture some of their latest thinking and proposals in their specialty field. These papers may be available at different locations on the CSIIE site. They are free and downloadable as is all our content on this site.
Yellowpaper DIFS-1 on Wilber's Flatland and Fearlessness Teachings: Flatland & Fearlessness Yellow Paper
Yellowpaper DIFS-2 : A Research Agenda to Legitimate the Study of 'Fear': Beginning Fearology 2000-2011. Fearology Yellow Paper
Yellowpaper DIFS-3: A New Vocabulary for 'Fear' Studies. 'Fear' Vocabulary Yellow Paper
Yellowpaper DIFS-4: The Fear Matrix: The Making of a Revolutionary Lived Curriculum. Fear Matrix Yellow Paper
Yellowpaper DIFS-5: Beginning Dispensations of Integral Fearology: Systematics & Problematics in the Study of Fear. Epistemology of Fear Yellow Paper
Yellowpaper DIFS-6: Love and Fear. Love and Fear Yellow Paper
Yellowpaper DIFS-7: School Shootings and Mass Murders: A Fear Problem & Preliminary Fearanalysis. School Shootings Yellow Paper
Other Resources (by RMF)
A Critique of Critical Thinking: Towards a Critical Pedagogy of Fearlessness (NUML Journal of Critical Inquiry, 9(2), 92-164, 2011).
CLASSIC ESSENTIAL PUBLICATIONS (by RMF)
An Introduction to Defining 'Fear': A Spectrum Approach. Technical Paper No. 1 (1995, 2nd ed. 2012)
An Introduction to an Epistemology of 'Fear': A Fearlessness Paradigm. Technical Paper No. 2 (1995, 2nd ed. 2012)
Thanatos and Phobos: 'Fear' and its Role in Ken Wilber's Transpersonal Theory. Technical Paper No. 4 (1997, 2nd ed. 2012)
Culture of 'Fear': Toxification of Landscape-Mindscape as Meta-context for Education in the 21st Century. Technical Paper No. 7 (1998, 2nd ed. 2012)
Invoking 'Fear' Studies. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 22(4), 39-71. (2006) @ http://flophouse4.rssing.com/browser.php?indx=3645874&item=2
Fearless Leadership in and out of the 'Fear' Matrix (unpubl. dissertation, 2003)
I have just outlined my philosophical project with one big idea--Fearlessness, check out my map for this research work (Nov. 7, 2011);
Fearlessness Teaching: Reviews
The following are links to publications that have significantly discussed my new book The World's Fearlessness Teachings:
1. Dr. Carl Leggo "Living Love: Confessions of a Fearful Teacher" -2011
2. Dr. Cliff Mayes "Foreword" - 2010
3. Updated Reference list of endorsements and citations of scholars citing my work.
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