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UC Berkeley, Harvard to research influence of psychedelics on society and culture

California moves toward decriminalizing psychedelics
California moves toward decriminalizing psychedelics 04:00

University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University announced this month that the two institutions received funding to begin research into how psychedelics have influenced art, literature and society.

The initiative, called "Psychedelics in Society and Culture," will focus on the historical significance of psychedelics and will provide faculty and student researchers with grants of up to $100,000 to study related issues.

The UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) and the Center for Interdisciplinary Critical Inquiry as well as Harvard's Mahindra Humanities Center will lead the initiative.

"The UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics was founded to deepen our understanding of psychedelics," said Imran Khan, executive director of BCSP.

"We can't fulfill this mission without studying psychedelics from multiple angles, whether that's scientific, journalistic, or humanistic. As one of the world's leading research and public universities, with a rich community of scholarship across many disciplines, we're proud to be supporting cross-disciplinary inquiry into psychedelics here at UC Berkeley," Khan said.

"Potential research topics could range from Indigenous communities' contemporary use of psychedelics to ethical considerations surrounding patenting to the interplay of psychedelics with philosophical questions around the nature of reality, consciousness, religion and the human experience," a press release stated.

The Flourish Trust, an organization that donates grants to research in topics such as healing, donated over $1 million to UC Berkeley.

"For millennia, natural psychedelic plants have played a significant role in cultural development and meaning-making," said director of the trust, Christiana Musk. "This program will open doors of understanding into how these compounds have helped shape society and how we might navigate them to the benefit of humanity."

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