International Conference:

Evolving Science 2021

From Living Thinking to Living with Nature –
Approaches, Challenges and Perspectives of a
Sustainable Science

Autumn Conference of the Natural Science
Section at the Goetheanum
7 - 10 October 2021

Dear Friends of the Natural Science Section at the Goetheanum!

The Research Institute at the Goetheanum has been working on the spiritual extension of the natural sciences for 100 years now. The research methods and objects have undergone quite a metamorphosis during this time – from image-creating methods to depicting the temporal form of the plant, from the applications of morphology for finding remedies to characterizing genetically modified plants, from a new optics of images to the presentation of Goethe's inverse spectrum. An overview with examples will be presented at the beginning of the conference.

Identity inwards

On the first and second day, the human-forming potential of Goethe's approach to science – as an educational path – will be addressed. In addition to the original concern of making visible the forces at work in the living, there is the awareness that scientists – following Goethe's approach – must transform themselves into methodological instruments, because the interior of nature – its laws – can only appear in the human being. Only when I know the part I play in what appears before me can I adequately connect the world of senses with the world of thought in cognition. Conversely, the world of senses and the thought content experienced in it are the basis for forming the certainty of knowledge in a scientifically founded anthroposophy.

Identity outwards

Goetheanism demands that the object of research be experienced in its comprehensive context. This includes the historically developed scientific research community. Our work rests on the shoulders of our predecessors. Every approach that broadens our perspective enriches the picture of the whole. This view leads to a pluralism in science, which is the focus of the second evening. A look at the history of science shows that no result remains valid outside its defined context. When results are directly translated into socially relevant action, a problematic generalization can take place.


The crisis of the earth is also the crisis of mankind – the ecological crisis and the current pandemic are like two sides of the same coin. The third day will focus on the science of interrelationships. Evo-Devo, microbiology and ecology demand and promote a contextual and procedural way of thinking, such as the one Goethe postulated for the knowledge of living things. The contributions on Sunday illuminate the connection between our mental "deeds" and the processes in nature. A creative will and a wealth of mental concepts make abundance and diversity of life possible. From this point of view, a Goethean science of nature is not a "luxury good" but a "life insurance" for the common future of earth and man, and at the same time it is a source for individual spiritual self-development.

As with "Evolving Science 2015 / 2018", there will be spaces for "project presentations" and "workshops", which are open for registration (further down). The project presentations and workshops will be presented here in September.

The conference will be bilingual in German and English.

We look forward to your participation!
Johannes Kühl, Susanna Kümmell, Matthias Rang, Ruth Richter, Carolin Schürer, Meinhard Simon, Johannes Wirz & Mara Born

(subject to change)

Hasok Chang

Hans Rausing Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Degrees from Caltech and Stanford; teacher at University College London. Author of “Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism” (2012), and “Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress” (2004). Co-founder of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP), and the Committee for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science.


Charles Eisenstein

Speaker, essayist and author of 5 books, including «Sacred Economics» and «The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible». Working area spans themes of technology, politics, money, ecology, the indigenous, healing, and philosophy, described in terms of a transition in civilization’s defining mythologies. Degree in Mathematics & Philosophy from Yale University; ten years Chinese translator in Taiwan. Four sons, lives in Rhode Island, USA.


Vesna Forštnerič Lesjak

Pharmacist and farmer; individual guidance of students for Goethean botany; various research projects of Goethean plant knowledge for pharmacy and medicine. Since 2013 production company for food supplements and cosmetics, foundation and management of the association for further education in natural sciences “Sapientia” and the section for anthroposophical pharmacy and medicine in Slovenia; 2019 takeover of the ecological family farm and Demeter certification.


Thomas Hardtmuth

Physician, freelance author, long-time lecturer in health sciences and social medicine at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University. Since 1985 medical practice at various hospitals, most recently senior physician for surgery and thoracic surgery at Heidenheim Hospital. Regular lectures, seminars and publications in the field of medical anthroposophical anthropology.


Simone Helmle

Studied horticultural sciences. Doctorate and habilitation in rural sociology. Researcher for many years at the Universities of Munich, Hohenheim and Giessen. Since 2014, head of the Demeter Academy of Demeter e.V. in Germany. Development and management of further training for members of the biodynamic movement. Lives with her family in Stuttgart.


Johannes Kühl

Physicist; scientific collaborator at the Natural Science Section at the Goetheanum. 1982–1996 Teacher of physics, chemistry and mathematics at the Waldorf School Stuttgart Uhlandshöhe. 1996–2019 Head of the Natural Science Section. Works on various areas of physics and technology, especially Goethean optics and colour theory, as well as on the didactics of physics.


Matthias Rang

Physicist, research stay in the field of near-field spectroscopy at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA). 2015 PhD at the University of Wuppertal on phenomenological approaches to complementary spectra. Since 2007 scientific collaborator of the Natural Science Section at the Goetheanum and since 2019 co-leader of this Section.


Ruth Richter

Gardener, 1989–1999 Training in plant morphology in the study year of the Natural Science Section and in research projects with Jochen Bockemühl. Since then research assistant at the Research Institute at the Goetheanum. 2009–2014 Studies in philosophy of science, history of science and philosophy at the universities of Bern and Basel. Since 2015 editor of the journal “Elemente der Naturwissenschaft”.


Johannes Wirz

PhD in molecular genetics, projects on the ecology of butterflies and the enhancement of their habitats, on strengthening the health of honey bees and on “non-target effects” of genetic modifications on cultivated plants at the Research Institute at the Goetheanum. Additionally, since 2014, staff member of the Fischermühle teaching and experimental apiary, Mellifera e.V.; seminars on Goethean natural science, anthroposophy, beekeeping according to nature and current developments in biology. Since 2019 co-leader of the Natural Science Section at the Goetheanum.


Axel Ziemke

Diploma studies in biochemistry and doctoral studies in philosophy at the Martin Luther University in Halle, postdoctoral researcher at the Research Training Group Cognition, Brain, Neuronal Networks at the Ruhr University in Bochum, collaborator at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and Advanced Training at the University of Klagenfurt, teacher of biology, chemistry, philosophy and drama at the Rudolf Steiner School in Remscheid; freelance author with interests in evolution, brain research, philosophy of mind, political philosophy.

Project Presentations

The project presentations are intended to allow you to share current research, book or projects with colleagues through short verbal contributions. Following each presentation there will be opportunity for brief conversation.


Topics for contributions can come from any field of science, Goethean observation of nature, formative forces research, development of research methods, application of research results and science education. 


15 minutes (approximately 10 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for discussion).
You may hold your research presentation in either German or English (no translation).

You find the application form for project presentations and workshops further below!


The workshops are intended to deepen individual topics and questions in smaller groups. Subsequently, you will find on this page the offered groups with short descriptions.


Themes for these workshops may come from any field of science (and do not have to be directly related to the conference theme). Workshops which introduce current research, develop or discuss working methods, address didactic and educational issues, or deepen specific or interdisciplinary themes are particularly desirable.    


Two 90 minute sessions, held in one language (English or German) with no translation!

Registration for Project Presentations or Workshops

Your Personal Data
Deadline for registration for project presentations and workshops is August 1, 2021.
After that, the summaries of the registered contributions will be published here.