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Autumn/Winter 2011, Vol. 16 #2: Report from the Co-Directors

Download the article: Report from the Co-Directors

The election of Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst College, as board president of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education opens a new chapter in the biography of the Institute.

A frequent contributor to the Research Bulletin, Arthur is well known as author, teacher, and researcher. As visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, as well as the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, his research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, and most recently the relationship between science, humanities and the contemplative traditions. Among his many publications is a history of optics, Catching the Light, several collections of essays on the scientific writings of Goethe, and a series of dialogues that he organized with the Dalai Lama.

More recently Arthur has been directing the academic program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, which promotes contemplative practice in higher education. With Parker Palmer he co-authored The Heart of Higher Education-. A Call to Renewal, a chapter of which was published in the last issue of the Research Bulletin. He has also been General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.

As board president of the Research Institute, Arthur replaces Douglas Sloan, who as co-director with Susan Howard, founded the Institute in 1996 and became the first editor ofthe Research Bulletin. Currently professor emeritus of education at Teachers College, Columbia, Douglas continues to bring a high level of discourse to bear on questions of Waldorf education. We are delighted that he will remain a trustee of the Institute, as we are grateful to Arthur for assuming his new role.

Under Arthur’s and the two Directors’ guidance, the Institute continues to broaden its reach to like-minded institutions. In this context, the board has invited two representatives from Germany to join as trustees. They are Jost Schieren, who heads the faculty of education at Alanus University in Alfter,just outside Bonn, and Hansjorg Hofrichter, president of the Waldorf Stiftung (Foundation) in Stuttgart. Both bring wide scope and long experience as leaders in the field of Waldorf educational research. Hansjorg also links us with the Padagogische Forschungsstelle in Germany and will help the two institutions share the fruits of their research endeavors.

On the research front, a grant from the Waldorf Curriculum Fund has made the preparation of a further round of electronic books for OWL possible. The Research Institute has already published over 50 eBooks of valuable but often inaccessible essays and manuscripts. The latest grant will allow us to make additional texts—including several now out of print—widely available without cost to interested readers.

All eBooks already published by the Institute can also be found on the Institute’s Online Waldorf Library (OWL). Under the direction of its librarian, Marianne Alsop, the site is undergoing a major upgrade to make it possible for readers to undertake more sophisticated searches of its contents. For details of this upgrade, see Marianne’s report in this issue of the Research Bulletin.

Two further grants will make it possible for the Research Institute to broaden its project on sexual education to encompass the study of
various pilot programs underway in Waldorf schools across North America. The results of this research, spearheaded by Douglas Gerwin, will appear in a source book pulling together essays and materials from teachers, physicians, and counselors in Europe and the United States. The supplementary grants, awarded earlier this year, come from the Foundation for Rudolf Steiner Books in the U.S. and from the Waldorf Stiftung, the foundation of the German Association of WaldorfSchools (Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen).

We continue to work with Patrice Maynard, leader of AWSNA’s office of Outreach and Development. Patrice keeps us informed about the needs of the schools from her perspective and apprises us of research projects which we might consider. We are grateful to all individuals and representatives of businesses, foundations, and schools who have provided us with financial support. Without you our undertakings would not be feasible.