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Paper presentation at the International Steiner Symposium 2021. The Actuality of Rudolf Steiner: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of Steiner in the 21st Century.

After a lengthy period in which the work of Rudolf Steiner was largely absent from academic debate, there has developed a growing body of literature around practical applications of Steiner’s ideas as well as Steiner the man and his output. With few exceptions, this literature draws on standard epistemologies, ontologies and methodologies to explore Steiner-related topics. It has brought much-needed rigour and fresh air to the discourse around Steiner and is to be welcomed. Questions however arise from this. In investigating Steiner and anthroposophy, are representatives of ‘academic science’ delineating an academic field in which the works of Steiner can, at most, become objects or raw materials for ‘scientific’ inquiry?

Taking the standard definition of anthroposophy as “a path of knowledge, to guide the Spiritual in the human being to the Spiritual in the universe”, this paper questions how anthroposophy itself is actualised within the contemporary academy. It asks what are appropriate ways in which to tread this path of knowledge as an academic and how this can be discussed with other academics. It challenges the notion that Steiner and Steiner-related topics only exist as material for the research of others and calls for a development and extension of research methods to achieve this. Theyer-Bacon calls the ontology and epistemology of the researcher the warp and weft of their research net; how the net is woven will determine what is caught. What kind of net is needed to research anthroposophy effectively?

Dr. Neil Boland: Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand

Neil has wide teaching experience from early childhood to tertiary. He works across programmes in the School of Education including the Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts, Master of Education, and Doctor of Philosophy. His research interests include arts-based practices, first-person research, and embodied spirituality in child- and adulthood; he specialises in Steiner Waldorf education.