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Atelier for the Social Quest is a self-managed study course. Atelier here means a social art studio, small or large groups of people who are seeking to make their ideas and perceptions something living and active in the world. The reading material isn’t lengthy but many refreshing and radical perspectives are introduced.


The aim is to cultivate the kind of phenomenology which awakens practical imaginative understanding, beyond just theoretical knowing. We begin with careful observations of the phenomena around us; this is how we proceed as scientists. Such observations can then become windows to the spirit at work in the world; this calls for the waking up of an artistic form of perception.  Rudolf Steiner spoke of a living picture imagination; Goethe called it a higher beholding.


The Atelier for the Social Quest course can be undertaken solo but is best worked with in a group - this community-building activity is a key to the social quest. Although each topic involves some individual preparation the main work involves observing natural and social phenomena with others and sharing insights.


To see a sample of work material from three units Nature, Society and Self, click the button above.

No assessment tasks are involved and a high degree of self-discipline and self-motivation is necessary. The readings are the individual preparation for a meeting; the exercises can be carried out individually, then shared and developed in the meeting. Or, otherwise, the exercises can be worked on collaboratively.

The course co-ordinator is available to answer any questions by email and can link up with a group via Zoom at several key moments in the course if requested.


The course is intended to fit easily alongside activities which may include work and even other forms of study.


Time frame


Each of the units of this course is intended to be worked with over a minimum of ten weeks; the content allows for the gradual development of an imaginative way of understanding living form. Individual preparation doesn’t have to be carried out daily but with about 15-20 minutes every few days the course can be done well. 




Work on this course can be freely developed in your journal in any way that suits you. For example, it might include descriptive text, poetry or poetic prose and illustrations. For each theme there are three or four exercises which involve the practice of “exact imagination” and suggestions are made as to how this research can be written up. Genuine endeavour is the most important thing, not artistic skill. The journal is a private exploration although it can be shared within your group. 


Method of delivery

The work materials for the the course will be delivered to you by email when you have enrolled. The Nature unit will be sent first; when you have completed that please contact the co-ordinator to say whether you want to move to the Society, Economics or Self units. A contact person should be chosen to distribute the work material to the others. 

The water studies of the Goethean researcher Theodor Schwenk were influential in the development of chaos theory (see J. Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science). 

Goethe, drawings of plants and animals

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