top of page



Rudolf Steiner on Education and the

Threefold Social Impulse

In his lectures and writings Rudolf Steiner provided indications concerning teaching, the curriculum and school management in relation to the threefold social impulse. Click here for abstracts of lectures and related texts. 

Supporting Schools in Social Renewal

The following may prove helpful:

● spiritatwork - a consultancy based in Melbourne which aims to support the renewal of organisations through unlocking the creative spirit at work. Offers customised development processes to Steiner schools and other organisations, working with elements which include: Leadership for the consciousness soul age; creative group processes; establishing a mandate organisation based on freedom and trust; the threefold social impulse.  Click here


● Waldorf Training Lectures - presented by Lynn Kern, a series of nine lectures with themes developing from the threefold social impulse to questions of school governance and accounting. Purchase for $US300 plus shipping from Prairie Moon Waldorf School (excerpts on YouTube in the Channel "Waldorf Training Lectures"). To purchase the DVDs click here

● LeadTogether - an online professional network of individuals in positions of leadership in schools and training centers inspired by Steiner (Waldorf) Education, based in the USA but open to Australian members. A support and resource in relation to the governance and administration of Steiner schools. Click here

". . . a spiritual contemplation of nature will provide means for the kind of training in thought which, among other things, makes it possible to comprehend the social organism".

Rudolf Steiner, The Renewal of the Social Organism

Cultivating Imaginative Thinking

The threefold social organism requires an imaginative or pictorial form of thinking in order to be understood. Here are some ways which could assist the cultivation of imaginative thinking in a group context:

● Goethean nature observation - the phenomenological method developed by Steiner from the 19th century German poet Johann von Goethe. This has many dimensions and forms of practice (include mineral, plant, animal and colour studies, phenomenology of the human form). The key to this work is what Goethe called "exact imagination" or "cognitive feeling". The main publisher of works on Goethean science in the English language is Adonis Press; click here.


● "Social Self - toward a new social and economic literacy". A project of Adonis Press. Click here.


● Goethean conversation - a social art developed through the way group of people develop a form of conversation which moves from "associative rambling" to collective imaginative and intuitive thinking. Deriving from the influential booklet by Margorie Spock Group Moral Artistry. Click here.


● Phenomenology by Tom van Gelder - on this website is information on observing, phenomenology (Goethean science), the twelve senses, Rudolf Steiner's Basic Exercises, threefoldness of the human organism and animals and embryology. Numerous visuals and practical exercises included. Click here.


● Atelier for the Social Quest - a course based in Australia which develops Goethean observation, leading to an exploration of the threefold social order. Self-conducted in a group situation over a minimum of 30 weeks. In three stages - NATURE (Goethean phenomenology, studying plants, animals, colours and the human organism), SELF (the evolution of human consciousness understood through works of art), SOCIETY (the threefold social order, work, social art and creativity). Click here.


Select Bibliography

The Threefold Social Organism - In General

Perlas, N.  Shaping Globalisation: Civil Society, Cultural Power and Threefolding, CADI,  Quezon City, Philippines, 2000.

Rohan, J. Functional Threefoldness in the Human Organism and Human Society, Adonis Press, Hillsdale, 2011.

Steiner, R. Toward Social Renewal: Basic Issues of the Social Question, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999,  (Steiner's central book on social questions.)

_____, The Social Future, Anthroposophic Press, Spring Valley, 1972

_____, Social Issues: Meditative Thinking and the Threefold Social Order, Anthrosophic Press, Hudson, 1991 (here Steiner describes how a new kind of thinking will lead to social renewal and freedom of the individual in the cultural sphere). 

Lynn Kern, Lecture 1 (excerpt)

Adventures in Governance: The Threefold Social Order

Lynn Kern, Lecture 2 (excerpt)

The Threefold Social Order and its Implications for School Governance

Lynn Kern, Lecture 3 (excerpt)

The Phases of School Development

For excerpts of Lectures 4 to 9, click here

Steiner Schools and the Threefold Social Order

Brüll, D. The Waldorf School and the Threefold Social Structure, AWSNA, 1997.

Dahlin, B. "Steiner Waldorf education, Social Three-Folding and civil society: Education as cultural power", in Research on Steiner      Education, Vol. 1 No. 1, 2010. Click here

Gill, Rea. A School as a Living Entity, Waldorf Publications, 2011. (A detailed discussion of the threefold social order in relation to

    Steiner/Waldorf schools and a description of the implementation of a Threefold Governance Structure at the Vancouver               Waldorf School). Click here

Mazzone, A.  "Rudolf Steiner's social theory: how the Waldorf schools arose from the threefold social order", in Old boundaries and      new frontiers in histories of education : Australian and New Zealand History of Education Society Conference, 7-10 December,      The University of Newcastle, Australia, 1997.

Mitchell D. (ed.), The Art of Adminstration: Viewpoints on Professional Management in Waldorf Schools,  AWSNA, 2011. (Looks at   the College of Teachers among other things, suggesting that we must learn to love the challenge of  constantly  improving upon what we have, and to resist settling on any fixed final form which could lead to an individual power  position and discord). Click here.

Schaefer, C. Partnerships of Hope: Building Waldorf School Communities, Waldorf Publications, 2012. (Provides detailed suggestions     and advice about initiating and developing Rudolf Steiner schools according to the threefold social model, looking  at both pitfalls and potentials). RECOMMENDED. Click here. 

Steiner, R. Education as a Social Problem (now entitled Education as a Force for Social Change). 

____, The Spirit of the Waldorf School, Anthroposophic Press, 1995.

Trostli, R. On Earth as it is in Heaven:  The Tasks of the College of Teachers in Light of the Founding Impulse of Waldorf                 Education, Waldorf Institute Research Bulletin, Vol. 16, No.2, 2011. Click here

The Economic Sphere


Budd, C. Prelude in Economics, New Economy Publications, 1980.

Desaules, M. A Human Response to Globalisation: Discovering Associative Economics, New Economy Publications, 1996.

Lamb, G. Associative Economics: Spiritual Activity for the Common Good, AWSNA, Ghent, 2010.

Lamb, G. & Hearn, S., Steinerian Economics, Adonis Press, Hillsdale, 2014.
Large, M. Common Wealth: For a Free, Equal, Mutual and Sustainable Society, Hawthorne Press, Stroud, 2010.

Spence, M. Freeing the human Spirit: The Threefold Social Order, Money & the Waldorf School, AWSNA, Fair Oaks, 1999.

____, After Capitalism, Adonis Press, Hillsdale, 2014. 
Steiner, R. World Economy: The formation of a science of world-economics, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990.
____, Freedom of Thought and Social Forces, Steiner Books, Great Barrington, 2008.


● The Centre for Associative Economics - UK-based research, publication (newsletter) and educational centre based to a large extent on the economics ideas of Steiner. Click here.

●The Economics Conference at the Goetheanum - the section dealing with Steiner economic ideas, with reading list and notification of activities. Click here


The Cultural-Spiritual Sphere and the Political-Rights Sphere


Finser, T. Leadership Development: Change from the Inside Out, SteinerBooks, Great Barrington, 2016. (For leaders and                        administrators in Steiner/Waldorf schools who are grappling with governance questions and issues). 

McAlice, J. Engaged Community: The Challenge of Self-Governance in Waldorf Education, Lindisfarne Books, Great Barrington, 2013.

Steiner, R. Education as a Force for Social Change, Anthroposophic Press, Hudson, 1997.

Hawthorne Valley, Centre for Social Research - site contains a number of downloadable articles in relation to political-rights       and cultural-spiritual spheres, as well as the economic. Click here




Steiner Education Centenary Revival

A booklet of specially selected excerpts from Rudolf Steiner's thoughts on education and the threefold social order. All proceeds are donations to the Education for Social Renewal Foundation. Click here to make an order. 

bottom of page