Kenneth Tupper, PhD

Kenneth Tupper, PhD

Ayahuasca, Philosophical & Political Challenges.

Kenneth Tupper, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. His research interests include ayahuasca and psychedelic studies; cross-cultural and historical uses of psychoactive substances; public, professional and school-based drug education; and drug policy from a public health perspective.

For more information on Kenneth and his work, see:






Presentation Abstract:

The Science of Ayahuasca
Philosophical & Political Challenges

This presentation is based on an article authored by Kenneth Tupper and Beatriz Labate, “Ayahuasca, Psychedelic Studies and Health Sciences: The Politics of Knowledge and Inquiry into an Amazonian Plant Brew” (Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 2014). It applies ideas from the field of science and technology studies (STS) to consider how ayahuasca is understood and represented as an object of modern scientific inquiry. It explores how the indigenous and mestizo concept of “plant teacher,” or the more instrumental notion of psychedelics as “cognitive tools,” may impact our understandings of knowledge. This leads to questions about whether scientists engaged in ayahuasca research should be expected to have personal experiences with the brew, and how personal experience may be perceived to help or hinder the objectivity of their research. It concludes with some brief reflections on the politics of ayahuasca research and impediments to academic knowledge production in the field of psychedelic studies.

Panel Discussions:

Ayahuasca and Women’s Health
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD

Ayahuasca offers distinct contributions to the field of women’s health. At the same time, specific factors should be considered to insure that women are well informed of ways that their experiences with ayahuasca may be optimized or hindered. Specific topics such as ayahuasca and menstruation, safety measures, contra-indications, and after-care will be addressed from multiple perspectives. In addition, a brief overview of general topics such as the therapeutic potential of ayahuasca for eating disorders, fertility, and other women’s health conditions will be covered. This presentation will offer an interactive dialogue between various practitioners and experts in the field. The goal is to offer a well-rounded overview that includes the perspective of different indigenous traditions as well as the lived experience of non-indigenous women that have an established relationship with the tea.

Panelists: Celina M. De Leon, MPH (cand.), Cvita Mamic, Sitaramaya Sita
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD

Forces Behind the Movement – Presentation of Organizations
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD

A representative from each organization will describe their organization, their mission and provide a status on current activities.

The Aware ProjectAshley Booth
Botanical DimensionsKathleen Harrison
ERIELarry Norris
GITAJohn Harrison
ICEERSBen De Loenen
MAPSBerra Yazar-Klosinski
NierikaAnja Loizaga-Velder 
Women’s Visionary CongressAnnie Oak
Moderator: Kenneth Tupper, PhD

Plant Teachers and Entheogenic Learning
Panelist: Kenneth Tupper, PhD

While much of the interest in the potential benefits of entheogenic plants, fungi and other psychedelic substances has been on their healing or therapeutic properties, this panel will focus on the potential of these substances in learning and education. In indigenous cultures it is commonly believed that one can learn from spirit “teachers” within the plants or mushrooms. With the advent of psychedelic drug use in the modern era, it was claimed that substances such as LSD, psilocybin or mescaline could enhance cognition, stimulate creativity and expand one’s mind. We will explore how there may be educational benefits to the entheogenic or psychedelic experience, and how these kinds of learning might be integrated into modern concepts of knowledge and understanding.

Panelists: Cvita Mamic, Kenneth Tupper, PhD, Sitaramaya Sita
Moderator: Rachel Kann

More About Ken Tupper:

The educational value of entheogens and psychedelics may be their
capacity to reliably evoke experiences of wonder and awe, to stimulate
transcendental or mystical experiences, and to catalyze a sense of life
meaning or purpose.— from Tupper, K. W. (2014). “Entheogenic education:
Psychedelics as tools of wonder and awe.” MAPS Bulletin, 24(1), 14-19.

Recommended Reading: Articles

A list of Ken Tupper’s selected academic publications is available here.