The International Network
for Academic Steiner Teacher Education
In 2019, celebrations took place across the globe to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, Germany. The number of Waldorf schools worldwide is growing rapidly: by the beginning of the 21st century there were 850 schools in 57 countries; in 2019, there were 1150 schools in 65 countries. As Waldorf schools work creatively to explore ways to further evolve to meet children's needs in a new millennium, teachers colleges that offer programs to prepare future Waldorf teachers are faced with the question of how best to meet the urgent and widespread demand for well-informed, creative, resilient, responsible, perceptive, and open-minded individuals, who are well-prepared to become the next generation of Waldorf teachers.
From the outset of the Waldorf movement, the preparation to become a Waldorf teacher always involved Waldorf-specific teacher education. For many years, such programs offered their own certificates or diplomas, which qualified graduates to teach at Waldorf schools. Within the past two decades, however, a steadily increasing number of programs worldwide have started offering accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Waldorf Education, and some Waldorf-affiliated programs also offer doctorate degrees in Education.
INASTE has played a leading role in this ongoing process of establishing Waldorf Teacher Education within an academic context. It developed out of a symposium, “European Networking of Steiner Teacher Education – a New Roadmap” initiated by the Zentrum für Kultur und Pädagogik in Vienna in 2007, which invited all the European institutes for Waldorf teacher education to take part in assessing their status quo and plans for future development. In the process of this and further symposiums (2008 in Vienna, 2009 at the Donau University Krems), it became clear that the transformations in the landscape of European higher education based on the Bologna Process meant both an opportunity and a challenge for Waldorf teacher education to redefine its own position within the realm of higher education. International collaboration among seminars, colleges, and universities offering programs to educate Waldorf teachers would help stimulate, inspire, and foster this process.
This initial network of 27 participants, the “Europäische Konferenz”, formulated the intentions and goals for future cooperation. On an internal level, the network defined its aim of providing for regular communication among member institutes, stimulating the further development of study programs, exchanging research findings, and coordinating exchanges for both students and faculty among member institutes. On an external level, the network aim was - and still is - to build an international, scientifically oriented platform that represents and supports member organizations with issues of educational policy. Taking account of education science and general pedagogy, the network asserts the great potential that lies in the Waldorf approach, and aims to increasingly establish Waldorf education as an essential factor not only in European, but also in global education.
In March 2010, the first formal structures and an agenda were created for the newly titled “Europäische Hochschulkonferenz für Waldorfpädagogik”. In autumn of 2011, the name of the network was modified and translated to “European Network for Academic Steiner Teacher Education”, or ENASTE. After membership was extended in 2017 to Universities in Israel, New Zealand, and Brazil (followed by Taiwan and the USA), the network finally became INASTE, the “International Network of Academic Steiner Teacher Education”.
These changes in name over the course of the past decade reflect the consolidation of the cooperation between members of the network, which has allowed for an increasingly international and global orientation. Meetings of network members take place twice annually: once a year at the INASTE headquarters at the Zentrum für Kultur und Pädagogik in Vienna, and once a year at one of the other member institutes, allowing members to develop insight into the work of their INASTE colleagues. In 2011, collaboration among network members resulted in the publication of a compilation of essays on Waldorf Teacher Education. The network has also organized four large, international congresses in Vienna, aimed to establish Waldorf teacher education within the broader context of education science: in 2011 “2020: The Future of Teacher Education”, in 2013 “The Educators View of the Human Being”, in 2015 “Transformations – Education in a Rapidly Changing World", and “Realizing Humanity: Perspectives in Education“ in May 2022. A fifth INASTE Congress will take place at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna in May 2025.