Media ResourcesPress ReleasesJoe Harrison Appointed Executive Director of Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies

Joe Harrison Appointed Executive Director of Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies

BOULDER, COLORADO, UNITED STATES, November 15, 2022—Naropa University is pleased to announce that Joseph Harrison, MS,  has been appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies (NCPS). Harrison comes to Naropa with over twenty years of experience working at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University, in the areas of Substance Use Disorders, regulatory science, drug development, and psychedelic research.

Most recently, Harrison served as an Executive Advisor to the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research and provided input on strategic planning, organizational structuring, and design of physical space. The first and largest psychedelic research center in the US, the Hopkins research group explores the application of psychedelics, specifically psilocybin, in depression and other diseases for which existing treatment is suboptimal.

As Executive Director of NCPS, Harrison will work to establish and maintain key partnerships in the field of psychedelic studies and support research activities connected to the Center. He will also develop and oversee areas of training, mentorship, and supervision for both Naropa degree students and post-graduate professional trainees in close collaboration with faculty directors. 

“Joe was highly recommended by Dr. Roland Griffiths, Joe’s mentor and supervisor at Hopkins and the pioneer in work with psilocybin for depression, PTSD, and other issues,” explains Naropa President Charles Lief. “Attracting a strong candidate from a major research institution like Johns Hopkins is a testament to the work our Extended Campus team and faculty leads, Dr. Sara Lewis and Dr. Jamie Beachy, have done over the past 18 months.” 

In addition to the regulatory and clinical experience Harrison brings to Naropa, he also is bringing a commitment to social justice. Harrison explains he always works to “thoughtfully incorporate ideals of social responsibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion into all facets of [his] work.” In his new role at Naropa, this will involve actively establishing an antiracist/anti-oppression ethos for the Center’s activities, and creating and supporting programs that counter historical patterns of marginalization, inequity, and appropriation, particularly those involving Indigenous communities.

“I am honored to be joining the community at Naropa University.  Ongoing research is elucidating the neuropharmacology and therapeutic potential of psychedelics while state-based legislation is expanding access to them.  There is a pressing need for education and training of those who will be delivering these therapies.  With mindfulness and contemplative learning at its core, Naropa University is uniquely qualified to provide academically rigorous education and training in psychedelic-assisted therapy.  Integrating a spiritually open-minded and inquisitive approach with the latest science, the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies will be focused on delivering the gold standard in training and education in a way that promotes healing, human interconnectedness, and service to others.”  

Naropa is excited to welcome Harrison to the community, where he will begin his role in January. More information about the Naropa Center for Psychedelic Studies (NCPS) can be found here.

About Naropa University (

Located in Boulder, Colorado, Naropa University is a private liberal arts institution offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As the “birthplace of the modern mindfulness movement,” Naropa University is a leader in contemplative education, an approach to learning and teaching that integrates Eastern wisdom studies with traditional Western scholarship. Naropa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

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