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    Saybrook University
  Jul 25, 2024
2022-2023 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
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2022-2023 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Mission and Values


Mission Statement

Saybrook University relentlessly pursues a socially just, sustainable world by educating humanistic leaders who transform their fields and communities.


Saybrook University is a private, not-for-profit institution offering graduate degrees and post-graduate professional development certificates in the field of psychology, clinical psychology, counseling, organizational leadership and management, transformative social change, mind-body medicine, coaching integrative health and nutrition, and psychophysiology. Originally founded in 1970 as the Humanistic Psychology Institute within Sonoma State University (SSU), Saybrook University is a product of the idealistic aspirations of Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Carl Rogers, and other late 1960’s psychologists. These innovative clinicians and thinkers were instrumental in developing a humanistic vision focused on the potential to live full and meaningful lives as individuals and creative community members. In 1974, Saybrook separated from SSU and was established as an independent educational institution offering primarily classes in psychology and, human science. The Humanistic Psychology Institute was renamed The Saybrook Graduate Institute and Research Center and achieved regional accreditation from WASC in 1984. Over the years, the programs remained largely intact with slight variations made to the residential conference and curriculum delivery. Renamed as Saybrook University in 2009, the president at the time charted a new vision for the future, outlining his concept of a humanistic university that housed several colleges with innovative academic programs. Beginning in 2009, these new programs grew to include mind body medicine, clinical psychology, leadership, and counseling. From the beginning, Saybrook has provided a hybrid form of education, including a combination of face-to-face residential gatherings, written papers, dialogues and audiovisual conference calls. Currently, Saybrook offers an at-a-distance, learning-centered environment devoid of geographic limitations for non-traditional students and life-long learners interested in advanced graduate studies. 

Core Principles and Values

  1. We value life and embrace our responsibility to facilitate the potential of every living being to thrive in a just, inclusive, healthy and sustainable world.
  2. We are scholar-practitioners who seek and apply knowledge to solve problems and foster social transformation.
  3. We live and conduct our affairs with integrity. We hold ourselves accountable for honoring commitments to ourselves and to one another, to Saybrook University, and to the constituencies and communities within which we live and work, including the natural world.
  4. We insist upon operational and academic rigor in order to provide an exceptional educational experience for you.
  5. We seek diversity because we recognize that there are many ways of knowing and there are inherent strengths in multiple perspectives.
  6. We approach what we do with a system, or holistic, perspective based on a belief in the inherent interconnection of all things.
  7. We create relationships and communities built on compassion, respect, authentic voice, deep listening, reflective awareness, support and challenge leading to responsible action.
  8. We are creative, risk-taking leaders who challenge assumptions and imagine new possibilities.
  9. We recognize that dynamic tensions and fundamental paradoxes are essential aspects of being human and we commit to find ways to work with them productively.
  10. We celebrate life, striving to bring fun and joy to our individual and collective existence.

Scholarship in Action

Saybrook University is committed not only to scholarship and research in addressing critical human issues, but also to action. It is our mission to help students turn theory into practice, capable of performing research and creating transformative change.

To meet the challenges we face as a society, we at Saybrook recognize that we must change not just our technology, but ourselves. Saybrook embraces the notion that education is more than just applied learning. It is also transformation, giving us a better view of who we are and what we can accomplish in the world.

Transformational education is not static, but a continuous process. To be educated, we must be “life-long learners.” Saybrook University is therefore dedicated to supporting its alumni along with its current students, offering them opportunities to continue their research, expand their work, and connect with other leaders in their field.

Institutional Learning Outcomes

Our instructional values are deeply embodied in humanistic psychology, which as a discipline provides a holistic view of the world. Saybrook content focuses on the whole person, including living compassionately and sustainably, the human elements of healing, humane organizations, spirituality, coaching, community co-creation, transformative social and action-oriented dialogue. To this end, the faculty created the Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs) to reflect our mission, values, and the overarching goals of our curricula. The ILOs are as follows:

1. Leaders for life enhancing change who interpret and hold multiple ideas.

2. Self-reflective scholars/practitioners who differentiate themselves as they practice humanistic values in their professions.

3. Systems thinkers who move beyond disciplinary and paradigmatic boundaries to discover and initiate research and practice.

4. Professionals who place their work within an expanded geopolitical, temporal and socio-environmental context integrating core humanistic values.

5. Persons who experience and display intra- and interpersonal authenticity and compassion and demonstrate a commitment to ethical practice, as evidenced by their ability to revise judgments and change behavior in light of new evidence.

Faculty Qualifications and Engagement

Saybrook University is proud to be a community of creative, compassionate innovators dedicated to pursing new ways of thinking and doing for our professions, organizations, and communities. Saybrook faculty are expected to foster critical thinking and high-level engagement with students as well as collaborate with colleagues on course development, syllabus revisions, and student engagement activities. The biographies and qualifications of faculty members are available in the Faculty Directory at

Learning Models

At Saybrook University we commit ourselves to scholarship and research in addressing critical human issues.

Saybrook students undertake rigorous analysis and development of their ideas in search of new synergies and insights. Often this takes them outside of conventional wisdom. We encourage students to ask questions that push boundaries in a rigorous way. Excellent scholarship often involves asking uncomfortable questions.

Our approach to research is closely aligned with the human science perspective that there is no single privileged position from which to understand the human experience or the world around us. As such, Saybrook University embraces both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Phenomenological investigation, case studies, interviews, naturalistic observation, and hermeneutics provide critical insight that more traditional quantitative methods cannot. Effective use of such techniques is key to addressing many of the most complex problems of our time, and we encourage our students to utilize them to find the humanity behind statistics, charts, and graphs.

We value rigorous inquiry, analysis, evidence, clarity and integrity in scholarship and research. Through this engagement, students develop an important foundation in critical thinking, disciplined inquiry, the generation of new ideas, and the ability to contribute creatively to an area of study.

Saybrook Pedagogy to Online Learning

Saybrook best practices for online learning takes into account both the faculty and learner roles in co-creating community in the Virtual Learning Environment. The elements of the best practices are; responsible use of communication, subject matter, qualitative focus, community/group dynamics, personal reflection/group dialogue, shared responsibility for learning, and skilled use of technology. Saybrook uses a high touch point approach to the acceptance and integration of these elements into our teaching culture.  Through this high touchpoint approach, Saybrook has evolved from its first online courses which were a heavy text-based model, to interaction and images in all courses, with an increasing number of courses using multimedia, streaming audio/video and live audio/video, presentations, communication and discussion.