Art Practice as Research, Creative Pathways and New Directions between East-West Psychology and the MFA at CIIS


In this episode, we speak to Cindy Shearer, head of the MFA, and Debashish Banerji, chair of East-West Psychology about how their ideas on the vision of interdisciplinary education and creative scholarship lead them to create joint EWP and MFA degrees, as well as creative pathway dissertation track. We speak about transdisciplinary methods of art-practice research from the perspective of a scholar-artist, and the importance of art-making in forming new approaches to academic inquiry, practice, and research.

Joint EWP/MFA Degrees and Creative Pathway Dissertation

Cindy Shearer, DA, is the founding director for the MFA programs at CIIS. She serves as Department Chair for Interdisciplinary Arts and Professor in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing. She also chairs the PhD in Integral Transpersonal Psychology. A writer, text/image artist, and curator, she practices and teaches writing as art, a process she writes “reconfigures the boundaries of writing and visual art.” She created Ten Not-So-Tangible Tools for Writers, a meditation on the writing process in text and image. Cindy has also worked extensively in program development and curriculum design and as a developmental editor, consultant, and writing coach.

Debashish Banerji is the Haridas Chaudhuri Professor of Indian Philosophies and Cultures and the Doshi Professor of Asian Art at the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Program Chair for the East-West Psychology department. Previously, he was the Professor of Indian Studies and Dean of Academics at the University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles. He holds the Aurobindo Puraskar Award for international excellence in Sri Aurobindo studies from the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata (2017) and the Dharma Academy of North America (DANAM) Book Award for Constructive Philosophy. Recent books include Meditations on the Isha Upanishad: Tracing the Philosophical Vision of Sri Aurobindo (Pink Integer Books, 2020) and Philo-Sophia: Wisdom Goddess Traditions (Lotus Press, 2021), co-edited with CIIS emeritus President, Robert McDermott. More updated information on his talks, publications and other academic activities may be found at his website

The EWP Podcast credits

Your Host

Stephen Julich and Jonathan Kay

Stephen Julich has worked as an adjunct instructor in History and Anthropology at the City College of New York, as a lecturer in Jungian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles, and as an adjunct instructor at the California Institute of Integral Studies where he has taught classes on ensouled writing and Western Esotericism.

Jonathan Kay is a professional musician, and is currently a PhD student in the department of East-West Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Debashish Banerji.

View Profile