St. Lawrence College is partnering with local health and wellness startup Neuma to deliver the country’s first college level psychedelics foundations program with a focus on experiential learning.
As the medicinal potential of psychedelics like psilocybin continues to be explored, the Neuma Centre believes there’s value to people gaining an understanding of the history, science, principles, and philosophy of psychedelics and bringing those things into real practice.
Neuma hosted a launch event last Thursday at the college to talk about why they think starting the “Foundations for Psychedelic Exploration” course is important, and as an opportunity for people to ask questions about and provide feedback on what Neuma is doing and the new course they’ll be delivering.
Nearing a year old, Neuma’s goal is to provide more tools for mental health and wellness that people can use on their own.
The Wellness Centre’s Co-Founder Cory Firth says that Neuma thinks it’s necessary to be empowering not just practitioners, but individuals as well, and the program is designed to do that.
“It’s designed to provide a level of foundational theory of where psychedelics have come from,” Firth said.
“We have developed this program as a way to empower people on their journeys. So it’s not about providing information just to the practitioners because psychedelics don’t fit inside of the same system that we have now for mental health.”
He says having this educational foundation can help provide a safer environment for the substances to be used and a more empowered mental health culture that in some cases can be less reliant and straining on the medical system itself.
The course will have 28 interactive lessons that people can complete at their own pace, with Firth saying it would probably take five weeks if someone wanted to get through it quickly.
The program starts with an Indigenous Worldview delivered by land-based education experts and includes optional opportunities for experiential learning using cannabis guided by Neuma practitioners.
If and when regulations expand to allow the use of other psychedelics, Neuma plans to integrate the use of those into their work.
While the course isn’t part of any SLC program or curriculum – all the course material is designed and delivered by Neuma – a partnership between the school’s Innovation and Business Engagement team and the Wellness Centre lends some more credibility and accountability to the course through the college providing an assessment portion for the curriculum.
Those who complete the course also have the option of receiving a microcredential from the college if they wish.
Director of Innovation and Business Engagement at SLC, John Conrad, says while there really isn’t an existing industry at this time, the college sees the increased exploration of psychedelics and wants to get itself ready for when a job market does exist in the space.
He says it provides an opportunity for the school to be more involved in the space from the ground up.
“So as the industry opens up and grows that we’re able to be along with them,” Conrad said.
“For us it’s getting in at the start with them and being able to grow with them, and grow with the industry.”
The partners were connected initially through City of Kingston’s Health Innovation Kingston project, as well as Firth’s alumni status at the college.
Conrad adds that down the road there could be potential to see some of the concepts in this course introduced to existing programs at SLC.
While there’s reason to be excited thinking about the potential to integrate programming and build a deeper relationship, he said the focus for the college right now is creating space for Neuma to expand on their work.
“There is certainly interest in further conversation and dialogue, I think there’s a lot more exploration that has to be done,” Conrad said.
“What we’re excited about is there’s a local company that’s trying to do big things… whatever that looks like I think the college wants to be a part of that.”
The course has classes beginning on August 1 with early registration closing on July 15.
It comes at a cost ranging from $1,245 to $1,445 with Neuma offering a pay what you can option to those who have limited funds.