Education in Parapsychology

Screen shot of WikiHow search for parapsychology from March 4th 2017

Recently a nice short article on WikiHow came to the attention of The AZIRE. The article, called “3 Ways to Find Parapsychology Courses” is really quite good, but the article is a tad outdated, having been last updated two years ago. We wanted to write a long reply with a lot of possibilities for independent study,  finding good adult education, and accredited courses in the field, but ran up against the URL limit for comments. So while Nancy has joined WikiHow and can edit the article, we decided it would be better to do a new page on The AZIRE website on educational opportunities and link to that, the Parapsychology Foundation YouTube Channel, and the Parapsychological Association’s page on university-based accredited education on an international level in the comment.

So what motivated this updating interest was that one of the first recommendations, Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, no longer teaches parapsychology courses in the psychology department, as far as we know. Back in the day, Professor Bill Jack taught a minor in the scientific parapsychology there but he retired some years ago. A quick search of the catalog of psychology courses doesn’t reveal any remaining opportunities in serious parapsychology.

Consciousness Minor Home Page retrieved from the University of Washington Bothell website

However, one recent development along these lines is Professor Kate Noble and her colleagues who have set up a consciousness studies minor for undergraduates at the University of Washington at Bothell. The UWB consciousness studies minor includes a single course specifically on the field at the beginning of the minor, and all its courses — taking a wider approach to parapsychology as a segment of consciousness studies as a whole — are much more friendly to the findings of scientific parapsychology in its other courses than any other conventional university. The scope of the minor is very interesting and is a very welcome new look at the scientific study of psychic phenomena and other related areas within the wider context of consciousness.

Most universities that feature parapsychology at all in the US have a single course on the findings of scientific parapsychology. The WikiHow article mentions a number of these, and a longer list is available on the Parapsychological Association’s website on its accredited international course and degree possibilities page. No university in the US has a comprehensive program or series of courses on the history and content of the field as far as we know.

Parapsychology Foundation home page at www.parapsychology.org

Adult education for those who wish to be researchers or learn more about the research is iffy when it is not under the guidance of organizations with a serious interest in the scientific side of the field. The WikiHow article mentions the Rhine Education Center which provides solid adult education courses several times a year. While we can definitely recommend those, we also recommend our own ParaMOOC series on the social media teaching platform, WizIQ.com which starts every year in January and continues through August. The course is organized by The AZIRE and supported financially by the Parapsychology Foundation (PF), a not-for-profit organization that is now in its 66th year, and has always had a very serious commitment to supporting the scientific study of psychic phenomena. The PF also issues certificates of completion for those students in the ParaMOOC courses who engage with a significant portion of the course materials and/or complete agreed upon requirements.

The PF has also had a commitment to the international nature of the field and has long believed that scientists and academics in a variety of disciplines from a variety of countries are necessary to understand the complex problems that psychic phenomena bring to science. So of course, the PF’s emphasis on educational opportunities and the importance of understanding the traditions of research in other countries is paramount. Not only does the Foundation support an international affiliates program, but it has also provided online events that focus on research and education in the affiliates’ home countries.

This is how another great resource for serious students has come into being, the Parapsychology Foundation YouTube playlist on its International Affiliates Conference. There are reviews of the history of the topic and current educational opportunities in the UK, Brazil, Argentina and France on this playlist all drawn from the First PF International Affiliates Conference online held in 2016. Coming soon to the playlist are the presentation of the 2017 PF Internatioal Affiliates Conference: New Faces in Parapsychology for which four of the PF International Affiliates nominated new researchers in the field (two doctoral students, one in Scotland, one in Brazil, and a young researcher from Hungary) to present their work.

Back to this year’s free online iteration of the ParaMOOC series: While the live sessions of presentations by the guest speakers have completed, the course is still open to enrollment until August 31st. You can join the course by clicking here. Thirteen active researchers outlined their work, and two doctoral students presented their doctoral research.  All those presentations are available as recordings on WizIQ along with the PowerPoints, chat logs of each live session, and a variety of additional materials including lectures from previous iterations of the ParaMOOC series.

What’s still available for live interaction are the Last-Sunday-of-the-Month discussion forums that will continue through August 27th in The AZIRE Academy on WizIQ and at the The AZIRE Library and Learning Center in the virtual world Second Life. The 2018 iteration of the course will start on the 15th of January in 2018 and continue through August of next year as well. Planning for next year’s speakers is already underway.

All the live sessions of the past three courses are in recordings in the courses on WizIQ and the individual lectures are going up on the Parapsychology Foundation YouTube Channel under the ParaMOOC playlist.

To the left is: The Parapsychology Research and Education Course Logo for 2017 logo that includes the speakers, organization team, and the Parapsychology wordle created by the artist RadiantSkies that was licensed from our favorite stock photo and original graphics arts site, 123rf.com.

Finally, a word about the best places to start independent study on the scientific side of the field. First, these are (in The AZIRE’s opinion) the best YouTube channels for credible lectures/interviews/overviews of education in the field are the Parapsychology Foundation, our own Parapsychology Online, and the channels of the Parapsychological Association, New Thinking Allowed, and IONs (The Institute of Noetic Sciences).

PF You Tube Channel

Combine these YouTube channels with the new SPR Psi Encyclopedia website, Carlos’ blog, Parapsychology: News, History and Research, and the Parapsychology Foundation’s PF Blog and PF News, and you’ve got an excellent set of resources to build up your knowledge in the field while you’re hunting up the right course or set of courses for you.

The SPR Psi Encyclopedia that features expert-written entries on various people, organizations, beliefs and phenomena related to psychical research and parapsychology.

So while in the US accredited programs are incredibly to find, as the authors of the entry on WikiHow noted, there are some ways that folks with a serious interest in the field can get a good grounding in scientific parapsychology. We’re just still at that stage that the process has to be self-starting, at least in the U.S.