CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century


Kathleen Noble


The University of Washington-Bothell is home to a transdisciplinary and integral minor in consciousness that is the first and only such program at a public research university. This study reports a content analysis of reflection essays submitted by 122 students who completed at least four of the five courses that comprise the minor between 2012 and 2016. Results indicate that students derived significant benefits from this approach to the study of consciousness, including a deep appreciation for the depth and breadth of the mind and the need to release their understanding of consciousness from the constraints of scientific materialism. They also gained specific tools that greatly improved their sense of optimism and agency and reduced feelings of depression, anxiety, and nihilism. Challenges included the complexity of the concepts and the inadequacy of language to adequately describe and decipher the phenomena under investigation. Implications of this approach for finding effective and creative solutions to the unprecedented challenges currently confronting humankind and the biosphere are also addressed.