Western Institute for Social Research

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by basrsu, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. basrsu

    basrsu Member

    Hi, folks.

    Any opinions, good or bad?


  2. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    This school was founded 34 years ago and not acheived national or regional accreditation.
    For the same ($525/mo) tuition, or less, one could attend an accredited school.
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  4. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    WISR and the new APPEC organization

    As it happens, I sat in on David Yamada's final dissertation meeting earlier this year (his is the post to which Kizmet referred). I was awfully impressed by the quality of the work (I had read his dissertation in advance), the committee, the questioning, etc.

    I've been mulling over the offer to join WISR's Board for several years, now. Even though they have more students now than ever before, they still need marketing help, and some guidance to think and work through the accreditation situation. If DETC ever adds the Ph.D., WISR would, I think, be a shoe-in, but one certainly should not enroll with that expectation. Maybe one of the other national accreditors could be relevant.

    Meanwhile, WISR has joined a new organization, the Association for Private Postsecondary Education in California (www.appeca.org), an association of DETC-accredited California schools (like California Coast) and the highly reputable California-approved ones. The four people involved in starting and running APPEC have very strong backgrounds in higher education administration, including two former senior staff of the Council/Bureau for Private Postsecondary...Education, a former Stanford Dean, and the former head of New Mexico's school licensing agency (responsible, I believe, for implementing NM's fairly tough laws, although he couldn't keep Century from being grandfathered in).
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2009
  5. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    I have been following WISR for about five years through the website and email newsletters from the school. I have read everything on the website at least once.

    I have started to attend two of their monthly seminars on topics that overlap my interests but have been distracted by pressing matters, so I've never actually been to their campus.

    I've personally thought about enrolling in their masters degree leading to LMFT, but haven't had the time.

    I really like this school and think it is one of several examples of a totally legitimate community of scholars that just isn't going to fit the regional-accreditation mold any time soon.

    If you think a WISR degree can meet your needs and you can put up with those who will try to pretend that it isn't legitimate, then go for it. I really doubt you will regret the experience.
  6. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    It's small and extremely obscure, without a conventional academic reputation to speak of. It seems to be highly politicized and resembles a finishing school for activists. Like Ian says, it is 34 years old and has never made any visible moves towards accreditation. It's never really been one of my own California-approved favorites.


    On the other hand, I respect David Yamada and take his opinions seriously about his experiences there. I like the fact that WISR seems focused on its social change specialty. Its owners appear to have real interest in that subject and aren't just trying to get rich selling internet degrees. WISR looks like an example of the kind of do-it-yourself grass-roots academia that I like so much. So while WISR isn't among my personal favorites, I've never been especially critical of it.

    I guess my view is that it might be worthwhile for somebody to enroll in it if they want to study social-policy related things for personal reasons, if their academic and political interests in these areas are congruent with WISR's, if they can afford it, if they don't really need an advanced degree for conventional occupational reasons, or if they plan to use the degree in left-activist applications where WISR might already be known and respected.

    (And these days, those kind of activists are connected in Washington DC...)
  7. Dave Wagner

    Dave Wagner Active Member

    This made me smile and then LOL...
  8. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member

    Is that good, bad, or indifferent? :D :eek: :confused: :cool:
  9. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I thought I'd just update this thread because I happened upon the WISR website today and learned two interesting facts:

    1. WISR voted in 2014 to pursue accreditation and is currently in the process of applying to ACICS.

    2. Apparently California passed a law that all state approved unaccredited schools have to get accredited by 2020 (seriously, how did I miss that?)

    On the one hand this is going to make some very interesting schoo,s either disappear or go mainstream. I've always has a special place in my heart for the unaccredited CA schools, particularly the ones that gained the appropriate approvals for their degrees to be licensure qualifying (WISR included). I think that accreditation is a good thing. But I am definitely going to miss some of these California schools being the examples of what an unaccredited school could be. Of course, I also look forward to seeing some of them go down the tubes (or watch as they suddenly "relocate" to a more favorable jurisdiction.

    Apologies if this is old news to everyone else.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2015
  10. Koolcypher

    Koolcypher Member

    It is wisr to go to a different school. :yup: that is my advice. :eek:k::smoker:
  11. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    WISR is just down the street from me; I stop by there to chat every few months. They had long talks in Washington with DEAC before deciding, just a bit reluctantly I think, to go with ACICS, a process that moves very slowly and very expensively and has required some significant changes in their academic model. I think there's zero chance they will relocate, at least while John Bilorusky, president for more than 30 years, is still in charge.
  12. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

  13. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    It's interesting that quite a few core faculty members hold doctorates from WISR itself, although I think that just shows that something many often refer to as a bad sign isn't necessarily one. The instructor of the course I'm taking this term at Cumberlands hold a Cumberlands EdD, and he's perfectly fine (although the ratio of that is lower in my program there).
  14. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    California Institute for Integral Studies also has some home-grown faculty, but like WISR, I think that's a byproduct of what they are; not many legitimately accredited schools offer advanced degrees in the fields that CIIS offers.

    BTW, if you haven't checked out the CIIS faculty roster, I highly recommend it for entertainment purposes. Terrapsychologists, mythologists, naturopaths, practitioners of biosynthesis (whatever that is), it's like someone put a 1960's hippie commune into cryostasis and reanimated it in 2015.
  15. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    That's fair.

    I'm of two minds on that, since I agree those practices are silly, and yet I tend to like such people personally since they usually mean well, which in this imperfect world carries weight with me. Sometimes I think that I'd rather live in their world than the real one.

    Interestingly, one of WISR's core faculty members holds a PhD from CIIS, and her bio suggests she's a well grounded and accomplished person.
  16. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I had a pretty serious fascination with homeopathy and herbalism in high school. I've since come around. Still, it was a fun little world. But I can't put the genie back into the bottle on the whole "reason" front. Some of it was based upon romantic notions from reading Cadfael novels and a lot of it was my attempt at being counter-culture.

    Oh, well. Some kids wore all black and drew pentacles on stuff. I made tinctures. I guess everyone has their way of rebelling.

    I view professionals in these fields as I do academic experts in mythology and, to a large degree, theologians. There are PhDs who study the ancient Greek and Roman religions and try to piece together how specific rituals were carried out. It might be interesting but it's largely useless information. But I respect that we have people who dedicate their lives to studying useless information and answering questions that, in no way, improve our lives today. As long as you don't kill people by convincing them that your way trumps modern medicine I have a pretty high tolerance level even if I think your entire profession is based upon the rantings of a madman.
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I can speak about WISR from the inside-out. I've done a bit of pro bono work for them and have been named to their faculty. (In a non-paying role.)

    It is tiny. Really tiny. The doctoral program has fewer than 10 students, for example, and the overall enrollment is fewer than 50. Because of the very narrow nature of its subject matter, it tends to attract its own kind. But in-breeding is always a risk in such areas. WISR now has a good reason for expanding its faculty--with those holding doctorates from accredited schools, and is striving to do so. I'm pretty sure only non-WISR PhD's will be teaching in the doctoral program in the future.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    CIIS is not unique in that fashion.
  19. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Unless I am mistaken, ACICS (like DEAC) does not accredit PhD programs. They do accredit doctoral programs, though.

    I imagine that this shift to ACICS is going to require a rethinking of those programs at WISR if they intend to pursue ACICS accreditation.

    Do you have any sense if the doctoral programs are going to get scrapped? Are we going to see them shift to EdD? Maybe something slightly more bizarre?
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The PhD shifts easily to an EdD. That change has already been approved by the state and will be included in their accreditation application, should they get that far.

    Note: I'm on their faculty and provide advice to some students about specific issues, but I'm not mentoring any students. I have had a significant role in their accreditation bid, however. Again, all pro bono. I even pay my own expenses.

    The state intends to implement a requirement that all state-approved schools get recognized accreditation. Whether or not this initiative stands, it looks like WISR will pursue accreditation.

Share This Page