The Discovery Programme

Course Availability: Full Time

Art - Science - Humanity

Discovery Course Image

“Mind expanding.”

“I loved how the course evolved - from the outer to the inner worlds, and then into where inner meets outer.”

“The entire Emerson community was welcoming and supportive.”

Feedback from participants, Autumn 2019




Due to the Coronavirus situation we have postponed the next Discovery Programme until 2021, when it will run from 3rd Oct to Dec 10th 2021

Led by Dr Philip Kilner & Vija Docherty, the aim of this full-time autumn programme is to facilitate personal discovery and creativity. Participants are invited to deepen their creative skills and explore their sense of purpose through:

  • Goethe’s perception-based approach to scientific enquiry
  • Creative, nature-based arts and crafts
  • Studies and dialogue on human development, wellbeing and livelihood in relation to our society and environment.

Set in the gentle beauty of the Emerson College campus, the Discovery Programme provides participants with the opportunity to step out of their daily life into a space of observing, insightful imagining and creative collaboration.

During the programme, participants are guided in practices of observing, questioning and nature-based arts and crafts through a sequence of themed modules. Experienced teachers and facilitators will act as guides and mentors for each theme, creating a pathway of exploration, group participation and discovery. A warmly supportive social group can develop through activities that include daily singing, excursions over the beautiful landscape of Sussex and shared community living.

Discovery2019GroupMaking IMG 5385 Discovery2019Group



Open to all, this course is ideal for:

  • People who want to deepen their connection with nature, broaden their creative skills and renew their sense of personal purpose;
  • Artists, Craft Makers and Designers looking to develop a more socially engaged creative practice;
  • Scientists & Academics interested in exploring phenomenological and relational practices within a meaningful creative context;
  • Teachers, Community and Social Entrepreneurs and initiative-takers looking to develop a human-centred, creative practice.



The programme runs from Sunday Oct 3rd (afternoon check in and welcome) to Friday December 10th 2021. 

The course comprises of three three-week parts, and a concluding week:

Part One - ‘The Natural World’

We will explore nature’s elemental qualities (Earth, Water, Air and Fire) and their interplay in the lives of plants, animals and our own human bodily instrument. We will be striving to practice a Goethean scientific approach that is complemented by artistic work. When the careful, inclusive observing of phenomena is met by suitably practiced imaginative faculties, the two aspects - outer observing and inner imagining - may merge in an illuminating experience of discovery.

Part Two - ‘Becoming Human’

We will extend and apply this phenomenological approach to the course of human lives, guided by insights of Rudolf Steiner. After exploring development through infancy, childhood and adolescence, there will be space for the sharing of participants’ own biographical stories. We will then make a survey of world views, religions and philosophies before going on to consider the biographies of selected historical and contemporary individuals in their ‘Search for the deeper Self ’.

Part Three - ‘Ways of Humane Livelihood’

We will focus on different examples of Humane Livelihood including ‘care of our land, homes and nutrition’, ‘economic, social, cultural and environmental health’ and a carefully planned process titled ‘uncovering your path to meaningful work’, designed to help students explore their own questions around life and work and examine their deeper purpose.

Concluding Week - Completion and sharing of work with the Emerson Community



Details of the 2021 Programme are yet to be announced, however for a flavour of what to expect please click to view our previous Discovery 2019 Course Info Pack.

To inquire about the course, please contact Philip Kilner This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


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