Harvard Creating Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture

Harvard University is creating a Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture that aims to “transform the psychedelics research landscape.”

Full story after the jump.

Harvard University is creating a Study of Psychedelics in Society and Culture — an interdisciplinary effort across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Divinity School — which aims to “transform the psychedelics research landscape by producing cutting-edge scholarship and convening faculty, students, and experts to engage in discussion around their far-reaching implications.”   

In a statement announcing the program, Robin Kelsey, Shirley Carter Burden Professor of Photography and dean of arts and humanities, said the university “is uniquely poised to become the most exciting place to debate, discuss, and innovate in this area.” 

The effort will be funded with a $16 million gift from the Gracias Family Foundation. Antonio Gracias, president of the foundation and the founder, chief executive officer, and chief investment officer of Valor Equity Partners, said in a statement, that “Harvard is the ideal place to explore the topic of psychedelics from new angles and to craft a framework for their legal, safe, and appropriate impact on society.” 

In a statement, Michael Pollan, professor of the practice in Harvard’s Creative Writing program and Lewis K. Chan Arts Lecturer, described the gift as “visionary… in that it is the first to take the so-called psychedelic renaissance beyond medicine, by recognizing the importance of the humanities in exploring the impact and potential of these remarkable substances.” 

Bruno Carvalho, interim director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, said in a statement that the initiative will give researchers “the space to explore and enrich public dialogue around psychedelics, including their potentials, as well as ethical and social implications.” 

In 2021, the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School established its Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation to examine the ethical, legal, and social implications of psychedelics in research, commerce, and therapeutics. Additionally, the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School examines psychedelics as they relate to altered states of consciousness, the relationship of mind and matter, and the global history of spirituality and religion. 

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