Pacifica is located in Santa Barbara California
Since its founding, the motto of the Pacifica Graduate Institute has set the tone for a completely unique graduate school. The motto, Animae Mundi Colendae Gratia is Latin “for the sake of tending the soul in and of the world,” and speaks not only to the school’s insightful approach to psychology, but also to the caring restorations it brought to its two spectacular campuses in the California foothills.
At the time of its founding, Pacifica had just finished completely renovating the neglected former estate of Max Fleischmann, bringing it back to its formerly glory, and then some. The gorgeous 13-acre campus, located on a verdant coastal plain just a mile from the beach near Santa Barbara, perfectly set the tone for Pacifica’s incredible success and future expansion. It was quiet, protected, and stunningly beautiful — the ideal haven for thoughtful psychology and mythology students.
And long before it became de riguer, the campus was green. Plantings and structures blended with the environment, and gardens and pathways were designed to invite birds, insects, and other animals to feel at home. Existing orchards have been converted to organic production and the campus boasts a working organic garden that provides fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables to students and the community.
From the start, under the tutelage of founding President Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica placed a strong emphasis on Depth Psychology. Based on the work of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, depth psychology calls attention to the importance of what lies below the surface of conscious awareness. The importance of symbol and metaphor in personal and cultural imagery, and the recognition of the dynamic interplay between the natural world and the human psyche, remain the core of Pacifica’s mandate.
The school traces its roots to a two-room university counseling center established during the cultural upheaval of the early 1970s, when new ideas about society, education, and the individual questioned the established paradigm. The school's progressive approach put it at the vanguard not only of psychology, but sustainability, ecology, and global thought. This attracted the attention of Joseph Campbell, who offered guidance and appeared many times as a guest speaker in the school’s public conference series.
Not surprisingly, after his death, his estate chose Pacifica to house Campbell’s 3,000-volume library and personal papers, amassed through an incredible life of scholarship, travel, and research. The Joseph Campbell Library was soon established on campus, making Campbell’s handwritten notes and books on mythology, psychology, anthropology, literature and religion available to students, visiting scholars and the public by appointment.
Subsequently, the school developed additional library collections housing the work of scholars James Hillman, Maria Gimbutas, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson, all of which are now overseen by the newly-established OPUS Archives and Research Center.
Offering top-notch scholarship in a breathtaking and contemplative setting, the Institute’s popularity and standing continued to grow through the 1990s. In 1997, Pacifica received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which lauded the quality of the faculty and the ongoing success of its interdisciplinary approach.
By 2005, Pacifica had grown out of its original campus, and the school purchased a sister campus nearby. A 38-acre former Jesuit Retreat Center, the new campus allowed Pacifica the room it needed to grow, as well as providing another gorgeous setting for study, with nearby hiking trails and sweeping views of the Santa Barbara coastline. Each boasting libraries, bookstores, classrooms, offices and acres of open space, the two campuses provide a remarkable twin powerhouse homebase for the growing fields of depth psychology and mythological studies.
Students come from all over the world now to pursue Pacifica’s variety of graduate degrees, either through monthly, three-day learning sessions, or in a unique blend of distance learning and residential on-campus sessions. The six degree offerings include master’s and Ph.D. degrees in depth psychology, mythological studies, counseling psychology, humanities, and psychotherapy.
Committed to remaining ahead of the curve, in 2005 Pacifica developed an innovative distance learning approach to its Master of Arts in Engaged Humanities with Emphasis on Depth Psychology. Students attend classes on campus for two extended residential stays each year, and the balance of their course work is completed online. Pacifica has historically appealed to the adult learner returning to school for a second college degree, and this program makes it even easier for these returning students to go to college with little disruption to their established career and family life.
Today, Pacifica enjoys a student body of 650, plus another 350 in dissertation work, and more than 3000 alumni around the world who incorporate the vision of depth psychology and mythology into their lives and vocations. The school’s active public programs schedule features the top thinkers of our time, and helps bring the campus vision to the outer world. Pacifica also works closely with the United Nation’s sponsored Earth Charter to bring an ecological sensibility to public policy.
Above all, Pacifica offers a sense of community and belonging to those seeking a life that looks beyond the day-to-day to concerns about soul and spirit. Students often say that the most valuable benefit of their enrollment is simply the sense that they have found that rare place where their inner life matters, and where their chosen path to self-knowledge is honored and encouraged.