The California Institute of Integral Studies is one of two American tertiary education institutes bearing the name "integral", the other being Ken Wilber's "Integral University" (a branch of the Integral Institute, affiliated with John F Kennedy University). The definition of Integral in both is unrelated; the CIIS was founed and named by Haridas Chaudhuri, who uses "integral" in the context of Sri Aurobindo's teachings (Integral Yoga), whereas "Integral University" uses "integral" in the definition of "Integral" = "AQAL") There seems to be a sort of rivalry between the two, or rather, Wilber seems to have a strong dislike of the CIIS, and claims that there is antipathy against him there, in contrast to the assertion of then presidency of Robert McDermott. Since I have no first person knowledge of any of this, I cannot comment further, apart from noting the above links.
I have also been told that there is a lot of marijuana smoked at the CIIS; if so this would be part of the whole drug-addled failure of the Western alternative movement.
Someone once wrote to me asking my advice on which would be better to enroll in, the California Institute of Integral Studies or the Integral Institute. She mentioned that at the Integral Institute people seemed much warmer and more welcoming. I have had no contact with CIIS, but my experience with the Wilber people have convinced me they are indeed very warm, friendly, and encouraging, this towards even someone like myself who has been a critic of Wilber. In any case it is hoped that the coincidence (or not) of the use of Integral by both instuitions will help further the cause of a larger Integeral movement and global Integral transformation of consciousness.
The following is from Wikipedia; GNU open source license
The California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) is a private graduate school founded in 1968 and based in San Francisco, California. It currently operates in three locations just south of the Civic Center district. CIIS has a total of about 1100 students and a faculty of 66.
The Institute consists of two main schools: the School of Professional Psychology, and the School of Consciousness and Transformation (mainly humanities subjects). All programs attempt to combine mainstream academic standards with a spiritual orientation, including influences from a broad spectrum of mystical or esoteric traditions. Although the Institute has no official religion or spiritual path, its historical roots lie among followers of the Bengali sage Sri Aurobindo.
CIIS is an accredited member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In 2003, the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program in Clinical Psychology earned the accreditation of the American Psychological Association (APA).
According to CIIS professor David Ulansey, in 1951 San Francisco businessman Louis Gainsborough invited several authorities on Eastern religions--among them Frederic Spiegelberg, a Stanford professor of Indic studies; Alan Watts, then an Episcopal chaplain but otherwise an apologist for Zen; and Haridas Chaudhuri, a Bengali disciple of Sri Aurobindo--to form something called the American Academy of Asian Studies, which offered evening classes. Among their students were Michael Murphy and Dick Price, later the co-founders of Esalen Institute; and Eugene Rose, later Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of the Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. The Academy as such folded in 1968.
Dr. Ulansey goes on to say that between 1968 and 1974, Chaudhuri headed a successor organization--the California Institute of Asian Studies, whose formal institutional status was that of an educational branch of the Cultural Integration Fellowship (an Aurobindo organization founded by Chaudhuri). The Institute became independent of the Cultural Integration Fellowship in 1974, with an eye to attaining regional accreditation. It changed its name from "Asian" to "Integral" Studies at this time, and added "East-West Psychology" as an important new emphasis. Chaudhuri died in 1975, after which his widow, Bina Chaudhuri, joined with Spiegelberg to guide the Institute.
Obadiah Harris served briefly as CIIS's president before going on to head the Philosophical Research Society of Los Angeles, replacing founder Manly Palmer Hall after his death. During the 1990's, under the presidency of Robert McDermott (the author of books on Aurobindo and Rudolf Steiner), CIIS significantly expanded its programs after receiving a Rockefeller grant. Some of the new programs were a success (e.g., "Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness", conceived as a combination of Western esotericism with selected scientific themes such as written about by Brian Swimme, featuring such luminaries as Stanislav Grof), others were not. The result was a period of financial exigency, and a contraction of academic offerings.
Since 1999, the Institute's president has been Joseph Subbiondo, a linguist who was recruited for his background in university administration.
There was a time when I looked to the CIIS to provide an alternative to the Wilberian version of Integralism (the Integral Institute etc). I have since been told that the culture there (I guess students etc) is full of marijuana use. That put me off majorly, since marijuana is an insidious drug that has pretty much destroyed any chance of the Australian hippy/alternative scene amounting to anything; I assume in America and elsewhere in the world it is the same. People are weak, and alternative people in their weakness love to take marijuana as their drug of choice, just as the "yobbos" take alcohol. But if anything marijuana is even more insidious; it stays in the bloodstream for weeks (thus influencing the subtle bodies and the aura), can make its way into the fat cells, etc. And because of passive smoke even non-smokers are affected if they are nearby (unlike alcohol). The deva of the plant is actually a sort of parasite on humanity, and in this way it has guaranteed the survival of its species in perpetuity, because humanity is extinction proof any organism that provides an addictive substance humans find unable to resist is also therefore extinction proof.
One thing is certain; the new civilization has to be built by people who are grounded, and spiritually centered, and clear headed, if the mistakes of the past are not to be repeated.
The California Institute of Integral Studies - home page