Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education


The Center for Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education (CSIIE) is a gathering of imaginations, critical minds and missions in process and growth oriented discourse. Its aim to is provide a creative and nurturing space to generate leading-edge pedagogy for personal and cultural transformation. Offering a cooperative framework in which scholars and practitioners can develop an integral approach to their respective work, CSIIE is a platform for constructive change.

The Associates of CSIIE are engaged in serving their communities on three major levels. First, creating pedagogy which will enlighten those who seek our teachings and establish curriculum which may be used and built upon by future generations. Second, to assist in the spiritual inquiries and development of our students, offering a range of mentorship, therapies, and supportive access to ongoing discourse. Third, the promotion of integrally progressive, process-oriented discourse on cultural problem solving, in our immediate community and beyond.

Classes, workshops, and writings are continually in progress through CSIIE and Associates via three departments (Department of Spiritual Arts & Technologies, Department of Mythic Ecological Heroism, and Department of Integral & 'Fear' Studies, with the aim of making our theories and practices as available as possible to the general public. The focuses therefore are in the fields of personal and cultural change, integral perspectives on the variety of existing materials regarding progress in all areas of the human experience, and in the creation of new disciplines which are uniquely relevant to the times in which we live and the challenges that we face.

The departments, curriculum, and projects within CSIIE are in continuous process-oriented development. Pursuing an ever-evolving integral approach to the educational needs of modern and postmodern learners requires a persistent openness to new areas of focus and inquiry. In this spirit of exploration, CSIIE is keenly interested in including new departments, and in forming organizational partnerships, which exemplify the missions of all parties. If you or your organization is interested in bringing your research, teaching, advising and community service works into synergy with CSIIE, contact the Director to begin a dialogue.

CSIIE was co-founded in 2009 by R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D., and Barbara Bickel, Ph.D., in alliance with the Gaia House Interfaith Center in Carbondale, Illinois. Michael served as Director, for two years, and one of the three Associates along with Treesong and Zachary Seibert.


Integralism has various historical, religious and secular political uses, besides being a useful philosophy, theory and methodology. CSIIE 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. As well, anything taught by an Instructor or Presenter is their own responsibility and is not necessarily the belief or faith of CSIIE as an organization.

A BRIEF HISTORY & Acknowledgements

by R. Michael Fisher

CSIIE: "Our aim is to nurture a creative space for healthy and expanding human development, through critical, arts-based, and holistic-integral means." -Fisher & Bickel, 2009

I have always been interested in why humans "spoil their own nest." And the "why" of that problem continues to drive my inquiries and research on "transformation theory" as an explanatory framework for growth and development that is healthy and sustainable (1). I have sought to learn from all corners potentially useful answers to that problem. I have traveled into conscious communities dedicated to learning and teaching for over 30 years. Many alternative educational sites have been formed on my path of learning and growth. The earliest roots for an organization to operate from an integral perspective was In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (ISOF) (1989-) and then in 1998, just before I went off to grad school, I had a dream of an Institute of Integral Studies that would join with the interests of ISOF. CSIIE is my latest synthesis venture which took over 12 years to incubate.

CSIIE began when I came to live in the USA with my life-partner who got a professorship at SIU Carbondale. After a year of exploring who was in this small community of interesting people, with long activist traditions, I walked into the Gaia House Interfaith Center located for 60 years on the Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) campus. Soon I was volunteering two days a week and creating programing, and supervising interns and graduate social worker practicums.

I was fascinated with the Gaia House mission and thought that an integral and transformative perspective would be a complementary addition to their good work in environmental and interfaith initiatives. I made several attempts to connect with the academic community as well. The Director of Gaia House at the time, Hugh Muldoon, was instrumental in encouraging me to set up a "center within the center" and he went out of his way to get CSIIE space and furniture. Dinah Seibert was a great emotional and spiritual support for me as well, allowing me to work hard without a lot of notice by others. However, after two years, it seemed that I was destined to move faster than most everyone else, and my vision for an alternative learning center took me into collaboration with a couple of bright minds and open hearts. Treesong and Zach were the Gen X, Y's I wanted to connect with. I interviewed them as individuals before I scouted them for CSIIE, see interviews at my blogsite (, Treesong interviewed 5/25/10, and Zach interviewed 2/1/11). They understood "integral" and yet, they came to it in very differnt ways than I. My background was largely through Ken Wilber's work, which I began reading in 1982. With that diversity the three of us co-founded the second form of CSIIE online.

It did not take long for us to lift CSIIE from its humble office in Gaia House (Dave Colombo Library) to the world. We wanted to teach locally but also globally. After finding the right software program to accomplish this without a budget, the ride has been wild and enjoyable. Our visions have grown of what we can be, and yet, we know these are always evolving. We wanted a "flex and flow" system to our work and CSIIE had to be an organization not bogged down by bureaucracy and workloads that were stifling to our quality of life and the quality of our service. We knew we wanted it to evolve slowly and organically. None of us are into 'big hype' marketing or 'celeb culture' building. We go for sincerity and focus of purpose in communications with each other, our faculty, students and Spirit. We're not about being 'stars' nor rejecting them. If someone wants to teach something at CSIIE that's great. They'll be treated like everyone else who teaches here and at the same time we'll support their gifts as unique.

In summer of 2011, as we prepare to launch our website, we embrace all the unknowns and challenges ahead. We invite you to check us out thoroughly, and join-us as you see fit. The possibilities for expansion are endless. There are so many people to acknowledge in spirit and in physical work they've done for us, so many we'll not list them specifically, although Lindsay Knaus, our CSIIE "negotiator" deserves special mention for her ongoing support to help us communicate our work to a larger audience. We look forward to the future history, and invite you to join in making it the way you'd like it to be.


1. I came across this articulation of the human problem in my early twenties reading Ainsworth-Land, G. T. (1973). Grow or die: The unifying principle of transformation. NY: Random House, p. 3.

Last modified: Monday, September 8, 2014, 08:02 AM