Waldorf education is one part of a world-wide movement for cultural renewal. The anthroposophical understanding of the human being and his relation to the cosmos has found application in all fields of human endeavour. In medicine and agriculture, art and economics, natural and social science, individuals are working to find human solutions to the most urgent modern questions. Interdisciplinary research leads to integrated enterprises. Waldorf schools and kindergartens, communities for handicapped children and adults, medical clinics, research laboratories for medicine, botany, agriculture, physics a.s.o., therapeutic communities for drug addicts, roughly 200 institutions around the world offering vocational trainings – each is independent, but all are rooted in a common understanding of the human being.
Although each Waldorf school is altogether autonomous, it is integrated into a widespread movement for cultural renewal. This movement is developing world-wide and affects the most varied fields of life and work. Rudolf Steiner unfolded an intense activity in the cultural and political life of Europe during the last few years of his life, and for him it went without saying that anthroposophy could only become fruitful as the source of concrete impulses for new methods of tackling problems in the most varied fields of work. There is hardly an aspect of social life which did not call on him for change, reform or transformation.
In 1919, the introductory courses for teachers took place; courses followed for an ever-widening range of work: for renewal in the medical profession (1920-1923), in physics (1919-1921) and general science (1919/20), in agriculture 81924), and in national economy (1922), in religious life (1921-1924), in dramatic art (1921, 1924), eurythmy (1922-1924) and curative education (1924).
In the course of the seventy years that have since passed, the impulses Steiner gave have been taken up by different people in very different ways. Apart from education, bio-dynamic agriculture, anthroposophically orientated medicine and curative education have become well-known and are in ever greater demand. On the impetus of the course on National Economy and through indications on the renewal of the social fabric given by Rudolf Steiner on many occasions, banks have been founded both in Europe and in the United States which centre their activities on the welfare and not on the exploitation of the clients, banks which are concerned with social responsibility for the natural and the social environment. They are striving to realise new ways for dealing with money and with capital.
In connection with the foundation of the Anthroposophical Society in 1923, the School of Spiritual Science was opened. Centred in Dornach/Switzerland, it is an international research community whose common ground lies in the anthroposophical path of inner development. This path is one of individual self-development which can lead to heightened knowledge of the spiritual nature of the human being. Concurrently, it can lead to forms of inter-disciplinary research capable of bringing new insights into contemporary challenges.
As well as schools, farms, curative homes and therapeutic village communities, hospitals and clinics have gradually been established, always springing from individual initiatives. As the need arose and individuals felt equipped to answer it, research institutes and various professional training centres have opened their doors. In many countries, the latter have gained official recognition. In recent years, there has been a rapidly increasing spread of the activities arising from the focal point of anthroposophy. Every individual institution is autonomous and will develop along its own lines. And yet a common understanding of the nature of the human being and of the relation between this being, the earth and the cosmos forms an ideal link among them.