Bennet Zelner

Bennet Zelner, PhD

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park

The Pollination Approach: Psychedelic Therapy in Community Systems


Scientific research has demonstrated psychedelic therapy’s unparalleled ability to treat mental and behavioral disorders such as depression and addiction in a clinical setting. As psychedelic medicines move closer to legalization, more attention is being focused on the design of real-world approaches to delivering care. The main approach today, the “Medical Model,” views depression and addiction as a constellation of biologically-based symptoms, deemphasizing the role of psychosocial influences. But a growing body of evidence links rising global rates of depression and addiction to the alienating influence of the current economic paradigm’s individualistic beliefs and practices, which have disrupted the functioning of community social and economic systems. The Pollination Approach to delivering psychedelic therapy explicitly seeks to repair these systems, complementing and contributing to individual healing. It is rooted in the regenerative principle that all forms of local capital must be renewed and recirculated locally for a community and its members to thrive. Psychedelic therapy treatment sites may serve as pollinators of a community’s human and social capital by creating close partnerships with local organizations, broadening access to psychedelic therapy and providing channels for those who have received treatment to become reintegrated into community systems. Such reintegration should contribute to individual healing and the repair of the systems themselves, reflecting the mutually reinforcing relationship between individual and community wellness.


Bennet A. Zelner is an Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he teaches economics and global business. Bennet researches and advises on inclusive economic development, regenerative economics, institutional change, and delivery-of-care models for psychedelic therapy. His work has appeared in top-tier academic and practitioner journals. Bennet received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and he previously taught at Georgetown University and Duke University. He currently serves as adviser to the Usona Institute and sits on the Economic Advisory Board of the MIND European Foundation for Psychedelic Science. He is also in the process of co-founding a new organization, the Transformative Capital Institute, which supports community-based regenerative economic initiatives.



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