Designing for Life

Course Availability: Full Time

Art and Science Informed by Nature

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“If we want to attain a living understanding of nature, we must become as flexible and mobile as nature herself.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  

About the Course 

Designing for Life is a new eleven-week early summer programme at Emerson College. It offers an opportunity for the renewal of participants’ perspectives and initiative through a shared journey of inquiry and creative discovery. The course will take place for the first time in 2018, from April 9th to June 22nd. Before that, Saturday workshops are being arranged when anyone potentially interested can take part and get a taste of the setting, the approach and the staff (please complete the form below to be informed about these). Several of the contributing Faculty experienced transformation of their own lives and careers through time spent at Emerson College and are motivated to support participants in their own unique paths of engagement.

Who is it for? 

The programme could be a sabbatical or part of a gap year, before, during or after a period of study or work, for example in the fields of education, science, medical or therapeutic work, social enterprise or creative design. Potential participants may feel a need to refresh their enthusiasm for their work through a period of creative renewal. For those with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to consider, a personalised certificate of participation will be given on completion of the programme.

The approach

The artistic-scientific approach taken in Designing for Life draws on practices exemplified by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 –1823), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) and Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925). These and other inspired thinkers recognised both the privilege and responsibility of being human. Through unprejudiced, alert observation, Goethe gained appreciation of Nature’s interconnected mobility, which was to enrich his own creativity. For him, science and art were complementary. He avoided abstract theorising, preferring to be informed by Nature herself as she revealed her ‘open secrets’ to his attentive faculties. As the late Ronald H Brady put it: “In the moment of recognition, perceiving and knowing are identical: only those who see can know, and conversely, only those who know can see.”

Form of the Programme

In the eleven weeks of Designing for Life, participants will be guided through three overlapping stages.  Firstly, we will strive to establish practices of receptive listening, observation and empathy, between individuals and in relation to the surrounding world. The emphasis will turn gradually to creative exploration, with a choice of means of expression. Finally, while striving to raise awareness of the needs of the individuals, cultures and environment around us, self-chosen projects will be prepared and presented, by individuals or in small groups. These may be seen as a step towards meaningful re-engagement within each individual’s life and work beyond the course. 

Download the flyer to see the course outline

Activities will include a choice from:

  • Clay modelling
  • Carving
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Ceramic tile-making
  • Blacksmithing
  • Nutrition and cooking


Tuition including materials for the 11-week programme: £2,500

Accommodation and meals are available on campus at additional cost.

Why not take a look at our three-and-a-half day workshop "Form and Harmony in Cosmos and Life "?