Our Mission, Vision and Values

SF State group of students posing in front of a projector screen

Our Vision

Our vision is to provide SF State students and the broader community with a deeper understanding of health, healing and optimal well-being from a holistic perspective, integrating diverse cultural, historical and interdisciplinary ideas and practices from around the world. The Institute is committed to supporting excellence in teaching, research and service, and to the dissemination of an innovative health promotion curriculum in higher education, one that recognizes the fundamental interconnectedness of life and of our responsibility as global citizens.

Our Mission

  • To guide students and the broader community in learning the principles and practices of holistic health in relation to self-care, personal and community wellness and social/ecological stewardship.
  • Integrate holistic health views into health promotion curricula across campus
  • Share our Holistic Health Studies model with universities nationally

More About Us

The Institute for Holistic Health Studies (IHHS) and the Holistic Health Studies curriculum evolved out of courses taught through the Center for Interdisciplinary Science (CIS) at San Francisco State University. Established in 1974, CIS was a pioneering program exploring interdisciplinary perspectives in physical and biological sciences in the School of Science. In 1976 the founding director of CIS, Dr. George Araki, offered two new courses in holistic health, “New Approaches for Health and Self-Regulation,” and “Research Seminar in Holistic Health.” The growing popularity and demand for holistic health courses inspired the birth of a new program of study, resulting in a Minor in Holistic Health (Spring 1981), the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies (Fall 1986), and a Holistic Health Certificate (Fall 1991). In 1993 IHHS moved into the College of Health and Human Services and became part of the Department of Health Education.

On October 26, 1999 Dr. George Araki retired from the university after 24 years with IHHS. He passed away in 2006. Thanks to his vision and dedication San Francisco State became the first university in the United States to offer a comprehensive program of study in this pioneering field. His inspiration lives on in the work of our faculty and students. Today we offer over 20 Holistic Health Studies classes, serving nearly 1,000 students a semester from all departments on campus, making this nationally unique program one of the oldest and most comprehensive in the United States. A simple phrase that George kept at the front of his desk:

Cease doing harm. Seek to do good. — The Buddha

The Holistic Health Studies Model

The Holistic Health Studies curriculum explores diverse cultural, historical and interdisciplinary concepts and practices from around the world, with a special interest in the interdependent nature of health and healing. We value academic achievement and transformation through experiential learning and community service.

Course content covers the world's great healing traditions, contemporary insights into health and the whole person, and critical analyses of current health issues related to food, the environment, social justice, constructive activism and other key topics. Experiential learning is an essential element of the program with a significant focus on effective self-care skills for both personal and professional development. The perspectives and skills taught in this curriculum are viewed as key aspects of 21st century healthcare, essential for addressing the challenges of an aging populations, shrinking economic resources and the growing role of prevention and disease self-management.

IHHS recommends coursework with three primary objectives:

  1. To provide a foundation in principles of holistic health studies
  2. To facilitate the development of personal and professional self-care skills
  3. To offer course work exploring broad issues related to improving health and well-being, from the individual to the global level