The Consciousness Studies Program


The Consciousness Studies Program is a September-December morning course based on Goethe’s science of aesthetics. Poet, dramatist, and natural scientist J. W. von Goethe (1749-1832) integrated science and art in his quest to fathom the secrets of nature. The program also draws from the work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), philosopher, scientist and educator, who founded Anthroposophy, a science of the spirit.

His insights have led to worldwide activities in new forms of architecture, education, medicine, art, philosophy and agriculture.

To penetrate what he called “the open secret of nature,” Goethe developed a new way of exploring the world that allows one to enter phenomena as a creative participant, rather than remaining an observer. Like the alchemists of old, Goethe perceived nature as a “book” of lawful movements and patterns that could be read and understood through a developed, heightened consciousness. He also recognized the intimate relationship between the human soul and the natural world. The Goethean Studies program has its roots firmly in the alchemical tradition.

Consciousness Studies encompasses inner work, scientific experiments, and exploration in the arts. The inner work involves concentration exercises and the exploration of higher states of consciousness. This is balanced by daily scientific work employing rigorous, systematic observation and practical experiments.

Artistic activity completes the threefold nature of the program by taking the scientific and inner activities into another dimension of aesthetic and personal experience. The weaving together of art, science, and the inner work empowers the individual to explore phenomena beyond their physical parameters.

The program can be of great benefit to teachers, artists, scientists, therapists, and those concerned with ecology and protection of the earth. It offers an alternative perspective to the analysis, abstraction, and reductionism that characterize modern science. Working in a daily rhythm of inner work, scientific exploration and artistic activities also gives the student powerful tools for self-transformation. Focus on natural phenomena inspires awe for the wonders of the natural world and a feeling of harmony with nature’s laws. This can develop a capacity to live harmoniously, constructively, and creatively in an increasingly materialistic world.

Course Outline

  • The day begins with concentration/visualization exercises and a study of Goethe’s theory of knowledge as a path to higher cognition.
  • The second period focuses on subjects such as botany, anatomy, the elements, color study, meteorology, comparative morphology, and other natural sciences. There are also blocks on projective geometry and sacred geometry.
  • The third period is spent on further exploration of the themes of the science classes through drawing, clay modeling, veil painting and eurythmy. There are also blocks on architecture, Platonic forms, and drawing from nature. Students also have an opportunity to sing with the College choir.