A Milestone for Waldorf Education – Research Group Established at Alanus University

Group photo in front of Alanus University
Photo: Alanus University

Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences in Alfter, near Bonn has established a research group for Waldorf education, in partnership with the Software AG Foundation and the Pedagogical Research Center of the Association for Waldorf Schools. The primary goal of the institution is the systematic study and further development of Waldorf pedagogical approaches, both theoretically and in practice. The research group offers a comprehensive research and qualification program. It will provide funding for up to ten doctoral students for a period of three years each. The research group is being funded by the Software AG Foundation, the Pedagogical Research Center of the Association for Waldorf Schools, and Hans Stockmar GmbH, in the amount of two million Euro.

“Nationally and internationally, there is a need for the systematic study and innovative further development of Waldorf education. The research group will make a contribution to filling this need, and is thus to be seen as a milestone on the path towards the academic establishment of Waldorf education,” said Jost Schieren, Professor for Education focused on Waldorf education and Director of the new research group. Schieren, who directs the faculty for educational sciences at Alanus University, added that the research group is particularly focused on intensifying the critical academic discourse between the pedagogical methods of Rudolf Steiner in the educational sciences and neighboring academic fields.

A further accent of the research group is its close connections to Waldorf educational methods and practice. The group's research activities will focus on this aspect, among others. As an extension of this work, the research results will flow directly into teacher education as well as into the classrooms of Waldorf institutions. Furthermore, the research group supports projects that produce developmental impulses for pedagogy in general and especially for Waldorf pedagogy. Cooperation with universities and like-minded institutions around the world will promote discussion regarding the international development of Waldorf education. The research group was developed by members of Alanus University in cooperation with the Software AG Foundation and the Pedagogical Research Center of the Association for Waldorf Schools.

“We brought this project to life to promote the academic examination and discussion of Waldorf pedagogy, and especially to encourage research in this area,” said Achim Grenz, Managing Director at the Software AG Foundation. Christian Boettger, Director of the Pedagogical Research Center of the Association for Waldorf Schools, noted: “The educational research group is being financially supported by schools that have a genuine interest in seeing Waldorf pedagogy become the subject of academic research, and seeing it develop with the times. This is the only way that Waldorf education will assume a suitable significance in society.”

Young researchers who are selected to join the doctoral program can expect a comprehensive training program including seminars, colloquia, conferences and intensive supervision as well as a special library for the research group. The first doctoral positions will be advertised for Fall 2015.

Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences is a state-recognized school in Alfter, near Bonn. An important part of the concept at Alanus University is the meeting of the arts and sciences. Alanus brings together under one roof programs in the fields of architecture, visual arts, drama, eurythmy, art therapy, education and business administration. Alanus currently has around 1,200 students. All programs are accredited and state-recognized. In May 2010, Alanus University was also successfully accredited by the Wissenschaftsrat of Germany and now has the right to award doctorates in the field of Education Sciences. For more information, please see: www.alanus.edu/en/home

The Software AG Foundation is an independent, non-profit foundation organised under German law and based in Darmstadt. We are not a corporate foundation, but a principal shareholder in the Software AG company, also based in Darmstadt. With the profits on an endowment of around one billion Euro, the Software AG Foundation (SAGST) has been funding selected projects since 1992. We exclusively fund projects carried out by independent non-profit organizations who provide an immediate benefit to the community. We consider it a special aspect of our work to actively initiate new projects that achieve the essential developments and objectives identified in the foundation's charter (version dated May 28, 2002). Adherence to the “Guiding Principles of Good Practice for Foundations,” adopted by the Association of German Foundations in 2006, is central to how we work. The Software AG Foundation has its own asset management.

The Pedagogical Research Center is an independent organisation, founded in 1968, and associated with the Association for Waldorf Schools (Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen). Members of the Pedagogical Research Center are also members of the Association for Waldorf Schools. The Pedagogical Research Center supports and promotes research projects related to the theoretical foundations and practical methods of Waldorf education. It also develops teaching materials for individual subjects in Waldorf schools. For more information, please see: www.forschung-waldorf.de

Photo (© Alanus University): Leadership of the research group, L to R: Achim Grenz, Managing Director, Software AG Foundation; Walter Riethmüller, Board, Pedagogical Research Center/Association for Waldorf Schools; Horst Philipp Bauer, Professor of Educational Science and Vocational Education, Alanus University; Christian Boettger,  Director of the Pedagogical Research Center; Wilfried Sommer, Board Member of the Pedagogical Research Center and Professor of Education, Alanus University; Peter Heusser, Professor of Medicine Theory, Integrative and Anthroposophic Medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke; Jost Schieren, Director of the research group, Professor of Education, Alanus University, and Board Member of the Pedagogical Research Center; Marcelo da Veiga, Dean/Alanus University.

Media Contacts

Software AG Foundation
Peter Augustin
Press Officer
Telephone: +49 6151 916 65 146
Email: p.augustin(at)sagst.de

Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences
Tatjana Fuchs
Press and Public Relations
Tel.: +49 2222 9321 1902
Email: tatjana.fuchs(at)alanus.edu

Dr. Julia Wedel
Press Officer
Tel.: +49 2222 9321 1942
Email: julia.wedel(at)alanus.edu