Anthroposophic Council for Inclusive Social Development – What does that mean?

Anthroposophic Council for Inclusive Social Development – What does that mean?

If you are here, you probably know it already: The worldwide network of anthroposophic organizations in social care, social work, disabilities and education has a new name and presence. We were asked to introduce our new name and logo, as well as the Council itself and the network of organizations it represents, in the newsletters of some of our partner organizations. We would like to make this text available here as well.

From October 8 to 12, 2018, the biannual international conference of the worldwide movement for anthroposophic curative education and social therapy took place at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. About 650 people from around 40 different countries on all continents, including colleagues with and without support needs, gathered under the heading “Social Play Space: Making room for fulfilling biographies”. Woven through with artistic experiences and encounters, the conference was a true celebration of the diversity and vibrant energy of this work around the world. Lectures (by Jan Goeschel of Camphill Academy and the Leadership Team of the Council, Dan McKanan of Harvard Divinity School, Gerald Häfner of the Social Science Section of the School of Spiritual Science, Ha Vinh Tho of Eurasia Foundation and formerly of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Center, and Joan Sleigh of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society), workshops (many co-hosted by colleagues of different areas of expertise and ability), artistic activities and panorama presentations of inspiring projects and initiatives all engaged with the question: How do we co-create a culture and society in which every human being can find their destiny and unfold their biography?

For many years, the organization hosting this conference and serving as umbrella for this network of organizations, as well as giving space to this field of work within the School of Spiritual Science, has been known as the ‘Curative Education and Social Therapy Council’, or ‘Konferenz für Heilpädagogik und Sozialtherapie’. Though it is supported by its own legal body in form of a small Swiss nonprofit association, it has also been part of the School of Spiritual Science, as a working group with representation in IKAM, the coordination circle of the Medical Section.

As the work represented by the Council grew and diversified across the globe, with a strong interdisciplinary character and activities that may be variously weighted more towards the pedagogical, the social or the medical-therapeutic in meeting different needs in a great variety of contexts, the name ‘Konferenz für Heilpädagogik und Sozialtherapie’ – which does not translate well across languages, specific fields of work and professional contexts – was more and more experienced as needing to evolve. The Council’s Leadership Team made up of Jan Goeschel (USA), Sonja Zausch (Germany) and Bart Vanmechelen (Belgium), which took over the coordinating function in January 2017, initiated a search for a new name that could serve as an umbrella for this diversity while speaking to the core intent that brings this particular network of organizations together. In consultation with the circle of country delegates, the new name was developed: Anthroposophic Council for Inclusive Social Development.

A Council is a space where we come together as a worldwide movement, consult with each other, build a picture of the movement and develop initiative. The shared goal at the center is Inclusive Social Development: helping society evolve and shaping that process in ways that allow everyone to participate. In that goal, we have many colleagues in the world. What we can bring to the table for this work is Anthroposophy.

To the name, we added a new logo and a claim, consisting of three words. The logo shows the movement gesture of the Council – creating a dynamic breathing between center and periphery. This makes worldwide colleagueship possible. It allows us to sense and impulsate. The Council includes all who work in our field. It builds a heart organ for this movement and places it into the space of the School of Spiritual Science.

The three words – education, wellbeing, community – speak to the three main focus areas for our work: How do we make education and lifelong learning possible for all? How do we allow everyone to find health in dynamic balance? How do we build communities that make space for individual biographies? They also speak to the links with the three Sections of the School of Spiritual Science, whose concerns intersect in our field of work: The Medical Section, which brings together the professions concerned with health and wellbeing for all, has historically been the anchor for our movement in the School of Spiritual Science and continues to be a key partner. The Pedagogical Section, which is the primary forum for those who teach children and adolescents, has also been a close partner for many years, especially with the growing concerns about the developmental needs of all children and the rapid growth of inclusive models within the Waldorf movement around the world (albeit not yet in North America). The Social Science Section is the place where questions of community building and social, cultural and economic change live in a focused way. These questions have been at the center of the work of anthroposophic organizations in the disabilities field from the beginning, and many initiatives have seen themselves as labs for practical experiments in building threefold social organisms.

In placing the intrinsic interdisciplinarity of our work more into the foreground, our goal is to expand and deepen our collaboration with these three sections, as well as supporting the integration of all sections around multi-dimensional real-world challenges in general. Under the umbrella of the Social Science Section, the World Social Initiative Forum brings together diverse organizations with a social change mission. As many of our organizations belong squarely to into this network, the Council is building a partnership with the Forum that will allow us to stay actively engaged with each other’s projects and developments and thereby provide a practical and concrete link between the Council and the Social Science Section worldwide.

At the end of the conference in October, the Leadership Team presented the Council’s new name, logo and website. We would like to invite you to visit our new website. It is available in German and English now, and we will be adding Spanish and Russian as well. Sign up for our quarterly newsletter on the website. You can also follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.

We hope that these platforms will help us become more aware of each other across the world, and to continue caring for and building the interdisciplinary networks of colleagueship that have grown over the course of the last 100 years or so.

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