What's Up with UFOs?

is a public service educational initiative and a non-profit research project co-founded by Tom Curren and Sean Esbjörn-Hargens.

Tom’s career combines decades of conventional business experience with an ongoing commitment to pushing the “evolutionary edge” of personal growth and societal change.

Sean’s career lies at the intersection of business innovation and academic leadership. He is passionate about creating big views of reality by integrating dozens of different fields of knowledge and practice.

Tom Curren

Tom’s career combines decades of conventional business experience with an ongoing commitment to pushing the “evolutionary edge” of personal growth and societal change.

Conventional Business Experience
  • Business consultant. For over 20 years, as founder of Hawthorne Consultants, Tom Curren has been developing a successful practice in aligning top teams, improving strategy execution, and shifting organizational cultures. He works primarily at the CEO and Division President level as a consultant, “thought partner,” coach and facilitator. He has done substantive work in media, oil and gas exploration, leisure products, health care, home building, financial services, retailing, travel and industrial products.
  • Marriott Corporation. For 13 years, Tom served as the Senior Vice President, Corporate Planning and Business Development
at Marriott Corporation, where he contributed significantly to Marriott’s long-term growth. During Tom’s tenure, sales increased from $ 1 billion to $ 7.5 billion, with a compound profit growth rate of 17%. Tom was a member of the Finance Committee and considered one of the top 10 executives in the corporation. He created and introduced Courtyard by Marriott, currently a $ 500+ million business and the most preferred brand in the moderate lodging market.
  • McKinsey & Company. Tom has also been employed by McKinsey & Company, first as an Engagement Manager in the New York Office, and subsequently as a Fellow at the McKinsey Change Center, where he helped pioneer more comprehensive ways to improve performance and strategy execution.
  • A New York “Mad Man.” Tom began his career learning about marketing at Compton Advertising as an Account Executive on Procter and Gamble’s soaps and detergents business.
  • Naval Officer. He has served as an officer in the United States Navy, managing 120 employees at a naval station and operating off the coast of Vietnam on the USS Tappahannock.
  • Wharton MBA. Tom holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton Graduate Division at the University of Pennsylvania, with honors and a double major in marketing and finance. He has a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Pushing the Evolutionary Edge

What’s Up with UFOs? Is the latest in a series of projects Tom has undertaken to push the “evolutionary edge” of societal change.

  • Implementing sustainability programs at Walmart, 2006 - 2008.  As a contractor for Blu Skye Consulting, Tom was part of the team that traveled throughout Walmart’s global operations to help senior teams define and implement goals for energy efficiency, waste recycling and reduction of toxic materials. During this period, Walmart became widely regarded as one of the early leaders in business sustainability.
  • Changing the way people die in America.  2008 - ongoing. For the last 11 years, Tom has served as an adjunct to the senior leadership team at Hospice Compassus, the largest privately-owned hospice-and-palliative care company in the United States. Hospice penetration of Medicare eligible patients has increased from 30% to 50% during this period.  Tom believes that shifting the medical community’s practices around death and dying represent one of the important challenges of our times.
  • Building fields of collective consciousness.  1995 - ongoing. Tom has been an active participant in building healthy collective “we spaces” for over 20 years – with an emphasis on individual and collective “shadow” work and authentic relationships.
    • The Mankind Project: The New Warrior Training, in 1995, and subsequently hosting men’s groups in Maryland and Colorado.
    • The Evolutionary Collective: Patricia Albere. 2009 - 2016. A founding member of the Evolutionary Collective and participant for six years in Boulder, Santa Fe and New York City.
    • The Academy of Inner Science: Thomas Hubel,  2016 - 2019.  Tom has been a core student of Hubel’s Timeless Wisdom Training and Mystical Principles, entailing 60 days of retreat work in a community of 150 students.
  • Exploring Post-Conventional Realities. Tom has pursued a non-dogmatic approach to spiritual/psychological growth through a variety of direct experiences in non-ordinary states of consciousness.
    • The Monroe Institute, Faber VA. Monroe bills itself as “the world’s leading center of exploring expanded states of consciousness.” Since 2005, Tom has immersed himself in seven week-long explorations in consciousness, utilizing their Hemi Sync auditory techniques.
    • The Amazon, Iquitos, Peru.  2002 - 2007. Several trips to remote facilities in the Amazon to work with consciousness-expanding medicine in an authentic shamanic setting.
  • Bringing UFOs into the mainstream of professional discourse. When investigative reporter Leslie Kean published her book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials go on the Record (2010), Tom worked with Leslie to create a private de-briefing event for senior government officials in Washington, DC.
  • Reforming the U.S political system. 2017 - ongoing. As founder of the non-partisan Change the Rules Org (a c3 and c4 organization), Tom has championed structural reform of the political system (anti-gerrymandering, open primaries, ranked choice voting, vote by mail, etc.). Tom’s advococy of a $1 billion reform investment service caught the attention of major political donors. He currently serves, pro bono, as Senior Strategy Advisor to the Unite America Fund.

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens

Sean’s career lies at the intersection of business innovation and academic leadership. He is passionate about creating big views of reality by integrating dozens of different fields of knowledge and practice. What’s Up with UFOs? is his most recent project in this trajectory.

Business Innovation Experience
  • MetaIntegral Organizational Ecosystem. In 2010 Sean gave up his academic position at John F. Kennedy University where he had served as Chair of two graduate programs and entered the business world by launching three organizations at the same time.
    • MetaIntegral Associates. A global network of executive consultants specialized in applying integral principles to organizational dynamics. Clients have included: Google, The Nature Conservancy, Microsoft/Yammer, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Natura, Telstra, and IBM.
    • MetaIntegral Academy. A leadership training company that teaches online courses and runs year-long programs. To date almost 500 people have graduated from these programs. Multiple pre/post psychometric tests have been used with participants to shown statistically significant psychological growth.
    • MetaIntegral Foundation. A grant giving nonprofit that has supported leaders around the world to apply integral methods to innovative projects.
  • The MetaImpact Framework. Over the last 5 years Sean has developed this new integrative framework. It is uses 10 types of capital to measure positive organizational impact using  qualitative and quantitative research methods. He is currently converting this framework into a form of multicapital accounting software.
  • Integral Coaching Canada (ICC). After getting certified as an Integral Coach in 2008 Sean joined the ICC team and became a lead trainer for them. He trained over 100 coaches in Brazil, Australia, Canada, Europe and the US. He has also helped several organizations create their own internal coaching programs based on integral principles.
  • Integral Institute (I-I). As a graduate student Sean was invited by Ken Wilber to help launch the Integral Institute in 1999. He was very involved from the beginning and for a decade served in numerous leadership roles – including co-director (with Michael E. Zimmerman) of the Integral Ecology Center, the Director of Academic Affairs and Vice President of Applications and Research. Sean is widely recognized as one of the leading figures in the world teaching and applying Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory.
  • Living and working overseas and in nature Sean loves to travel and live and work in other countries. Most recently he just spent most of a year with his wife and two daughters living in Ireland, France, and Scotland.
    • National Biodiversity Centre, Bhutan. For 6 months in 2001/2002 Sean worked in Bhutan with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) helping them to integrate the biodiversity data housed in over two-dozen government and non-government offices throughout the country.
    • Peace Corps Volunteer & Trainer, Chad, Africa. After graduating from College Sean joined the Peace Corps. He worked with numerous NGOs such as UNICEF on issues of water and sanitation. He learned French and survived 130° weather. At the end of his tour he was asked to train the next cohort of volunteers.
    • Outdoor Educator and Trip Leader. For six years Sean worked for an outdoor adventures program. During this time, he held a Wilderness First Responder certification and lead over 40 sea kayaking and backpacking trips throughout the Pacific Northwest. He also worked for 4 months with a team of 10 youth-at-risk building trails in backcountry wilderness.

Academic Leadership Experience
  • Pioneering new integrative metafields of scholarship and application. Ever since Sean tried to triple major in philosophy, psychology, and biology as an undergraduate he has been interested in going beyond disciplines into what he calls metadisciplinary approaches. These are big picture approaches that integrate dozens of disciplines from the hard sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. His Ph.D. was in philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness – it doesn’t get much bigger than that!
    • Exo Studies. In 2018 Sean launched the Institute of Exo Studies (IES) to support the creation of what he calls exo studies. Exo studies draws on over 50 disciplines to help make sense of the UFO phenomena in all its complexity and mystery.
    • The Harmonic Enneagram. Recently Sean has begun to create 3D models of the Enneagram – an ancient map of harmonic dynamics in people and reality. The Enneagram is popular as a personality system but Sean likes to explore the deeper geometric architecture and esoteric history of this ancient system.
    • Complex Integral Realism. Beginning in 2010 Sean initiated a scholarly dialogue between dozens of academics representing three integrative metatheories – Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, Roy Bhaskar’s Critical Realism, and Edgar Morin’s Complex Thought. One result of this process is the Complex Integral Realism, which integrates the strengths and insights of all three.
    • Integral Ecology. In 2009 Sean co-authored with Michael E. Zimmerman an 850-page volume that presented an integral model that draws on 1700 sources and integrates 200 schools of ecological science and environmental thinking. 
    • Other Integral fields of application. Sean has made significant contributions to  integral research, integral business, integral education, and integral philosophy.
  • Publishing Integral scholars around the world. For the last 20 years Sean has dedicated himself to bringing academic credibility and rigor to the field of Integral Theory through publishing leading scholars in the field.
    • SUNY Series in Integral Theory.  Sean is the founding editor of the only academic book series in Integral Theory.   Since 2008 twelve volumes have been published.
    • Integral Theory Conference.  Sean co-founded and co-organized an international biennial academic conference in the San Francisco Bay Area (2008, 2010, 2013, and 2015). This event was the leading event of its kind for the field and hosted 400-600 people each time from over 25 countries. Each conference produced between 50-80 academic papers.
    • Journal of Integral Theory and Practice (JITP).  In 2004 Sean founded and served for nine years as Executive Editor of JITP an academic peer-reviewed journal. In this role he published 4000-pages of material from over 100 authors.
    • Published Author. Beginning with his first published academic article in 2001 Sean has published two dozen articles and book chapters. He has also authored or edited eight books including: Integral Ecology (co-authored with Michael E. Zimmerman), Metatheory for the Twenty-first Century (co-edited with Roy Bhaskar et al), and Dancing with Sophia (co-edited with Michael Schwartz).
  • Launching new graduate level programs. After receiving his PhD Sean quickly began the process of creating a number of new graduate programs at several universities.
    • John F. Kennedy University (JFKU). In 2003 Sean was hired to teach at JFKU. In 2005 he became Chair of the on campus Integral Psychology MA program. In 2006 he created and became Chair of the Integral Theory MA program, the first online program at the University. He designed and taught over 30 courses. Sean was one of the youngest scholars to ever achieve full professor at the university.
    • Fielding Graduate University. In 2006 Sean established and taught for years in the online Integral Certificate and the Integral Studies track in the Master’s in Organization Management and Development.
  • An unsatiated appetite for learning. Sean has always been a voracious reader exploring knowledge from every aspect of the human effort to make sense of reality. He is very happy when he is sitting in his library surrounded by his 6000+ volumes and writing.
    • Lewis & Clark College BS. Sean graduated cum laude with an honors thesis on animal consciousness and participated in a six-month program in East Africa. During his undergraduate years he took so many extra courses that when he graduated in 4 years he had 6 years’ worth of course credits.
    • California Institute of Integral Studies MA & PhD. From 1999 to 2005 Sean pursued his MA in Religion and Philosophy and then his PhD. in the Humanities. In addition to taking more courses than his fellow students (a habit from his undergraduate days) he often signed up for a course, got the syllabus ahead of time, read the books and started the final term paper before the course had begun. This allowed him to finish his papers early enough to ask 2-3 colleagues to read the paper and give him feedback so he could revise it before turning it in.


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