Emerson Research Centre
renewal through research
The Emerson Research Centre is concerned with building an International Centre of Excellence in Anthroposophical Education and Research within the English-speaking world. The Centre encompasses a number of disciplines and research programmes devoted to building a sustainable and holistic future which cares for nature, develops human potential and unites art, science and religion.
The research programmes and the activities of the Centre are concerned with addressing current world problems arising out of the limitations of materialistic science. Their aim is to bring life into what is dying. For instance, the water research programme aims to develop eco-technologies which help to support life in nature whilst the medical and therapeutic research programme is concerned with bringing life into the fragmented human constitution, deadened biographies and atrophied experience.
The Centre aims to extend conventional science by increasing human beings’ awareness of the living world which permeates the human constitution, human activities and the kingdoms of nature and the interconnected reality of the phenomena of this world. In order to achieve this it is underpinned by transformational anthroposophical and Goethean research methods, along with the methods of such other traditions such as quantum physics, traditional indigenous and spiritual cultures, the spiritual strivings of human beings and conventional science.
The Centre engages in pure and applied research and scholarly activity which,
fosters inter-disciplinary research collaborations both within the Centre and with other anthroposophical and non-anthroposophical research centres,
promotes innovatory dissemination strategies which range from conventional knowledge transfer methods to creative arts-based methods in order to reach a wide range of people and demonstrate that research can be enjoyable, creative and accessible.
promotes research-based learning at Emerson College.
We invite anyone who has an interest in the work of the Centre to (a) become a member (see membership), or (b) apply to the Centre for seed money for new projects (see initiatives fund).
Research has been taking place at Emerson for over forty years. It began in 1970 when a new field of research was established based on John Wilkes’ discovery of the Flowform® method. This has had considerable international impact with the development of over 2500 projects in 50 countries and over 300 articles and books written by a variety of authors. In 2010 it was agreed to build on this rich heritage and form the Emerson Research Centre. The Centre currently includes four programmes of research in the fields of Mathematical and Natural Scientific Research and Human, Social and Therapeutic sciences research. All of its activities are underpinned by innovatory approaches to methodology based on Anthroposophy (the notion of Living Thinking as Method)
Mathematics and natural sciences
The Flowform® Principle, discovered in 1970 by John Wilkes, came about as a result of earlier morphological and mathematical research carried out by Wilkes and George Adams from the early 1950s until 1963, and after Adams’ death, by Wilkes alone. Flowform technology made successful research into the subtle energies active in water more possible. The Healing Water Foundation (www.healing-water.org) has since been formed as a charitable trust in the UK, New Zealand and the USA, with the goal of achieving a better understanding of the formative processes in nature active through the unique properties of water. This involves continuing research into morphology and metamorphosis, subtle energies, relationships with natural resonance and rhythm and the profound impact of water on the creation and health of all living things. Arising from these studies the Healing Water Foundation develops biomimetic eco-technology helping water to support life, in a time when this capacity of water can no longer be taken for granted. Educational activities aimed at awakening the general public and professionals responsible for water to the plight and deeper aspects of water’s condition are also self-set tasks of the Foundation.
Investigators: Iain Trousdell. Professor Costantino Giorgetti (see relevant publications)
Negative space research
The research on negative space conducted by Nick Thomas has so far been of a theoretical nature, the experimental confirmation being its agreement with known facts. The policy has been to develop the ideas to give results as accurate as those of conventional science, and check that there is no conflict with known fact. This is obviously an essential preliminary. That aspect is still in progress. The second stage is to arrive at new predictions that may be tested. Currently a new approach to quantum physics based on counterspace is being developed, with a view to finding how to treat nuclear waste. It has gone through four developmental stages and is expected to go through more, but now accounts for a substantial part of the physics of the atom.
Investigator: Nick Thomas
Human, social and therapeutic sciences
Experiential and action research
Experiential research, based on the principles of Anthroposophy, extends contemporary research paradigms. It is based on the direct experience of the researcher and participants and is aimed at transforming our relationship with ourselves, social and cultural life, the kingdoms of nature and the spiritual world in accordance with the evolutionary conditions of the beginning of the twenty-first century. It takes the view that our consciousness is restricted by the scientific, social, cultural and political conditions of life today and aims to overcome these restrictions and deepen our perception of our experience and broaden the possibilities open to us in daily life as a result of utilizing a range of methodologies but, in particular, action research and living thinking as method.
Investigators: Dr John Lees, Dr Ulrich Weger (see relevant publications by programme investigators).
Anthroposophic medical and therapeutic research
The anthroposophic medical and therapeutic research programme furthers understanding of anthroposophical medicine and therapy as practised by interdisciplinary anthroposophic therapeutica. The research aims to develop practice and the basic concepts and methods of anthroposophic practice using qualitative methods and to evaluate the effectiveness of anthroposophic clinical practice using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The fieldwork is based on the work of the Pixton Hill Medical Centre which offers anthroposophic medicine, therapeutic eurythmy, anthroposophic therapeutic arts, anthroposophic psychotherapy and rhythmical massage, as appropriate, for most health problems ranging from cancer care and heart disease to everyday ailments to life crises to more serious psychological problems.
Investigator: Dr John Lees (See relevant publications).
Living thinking as method
A basic aim of the Centre is to develop the methodology underpinning anthroposophical research. It adopts the view that to understand a phenomenon the investigator has to become like it – what Goethe referred to as ‘delicate empiricism’. For instance, in order to understand nature, our thinking has to become similar to nature’s ‘thinking’ which is alive. Similarly, an anthroposophical practitioner researcher into medicine and therapy needs to identify with the illness – and health - of the patient when working as a researcher (and a therapist). The anthroposophical researcher thus becomes an integral part of the research process as opposed to a neutral observer. However, in order to approach these ideals, and take into account the subjective and intuitive nature of anthroposophical research, the Centre will,
Develop anthroposophical living thinking methods and extend the creative methods underpinning anthroposophical and Goethean methodology.
Create communities of research where the results of our research can be evaluated by peers and thereby approach the essence of the phenomenon.
Living thinking as method is underpinned by the principle of the transformation of the researcher as an ‘instrument of research’ as a result of engaging on a ‘path of development’, as described in such works as Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity by Rudolf Steiner. This process involves developing an attitude of wonder, reverence and surrender towards the inner and outer phenomena we are investigating and engaging in deep reflection and meditation on these phenomena in order to develop a soul condition which is able to understand their spiritual essence.
Investigators: Iain Trousdell, Hayley Spence, Dr John Lees, Christine Gruwez, Dr Ulrich Weger (see relevant publications).
All Relevant Publications