At the heart of the Anthroposophical Society is the School for Spiritual Science, an institution intended to be an esoteric school for spiritual scientific research and study.

During the course of 1924 Rudolf Steiner held 19 esoteric lessons in which he introduced his followers to a series of meditations (mantras) along with instructions and guidelines for their use. This set of lessons is known as the First Class and they are made available to those who become members of the School.

After Steiner’s death in 1925 the members of the Executive Council (Vorstand) at the Goetheanum began to convey the contents of these lessons to members of the First Class. Other leaders in the Anthroposophical Society were also assigned to take on this task and circles of Class holders grew in various countries around the world. Today members of the Anthroposophical Society have the opportunity to become members of the First Class and to participate in the instructional lessons.

The School for Spiritual Science is organized into departments, called “sections,” for the purpose of conducting spiritual-scientific research within various professional fields.

Each Section administers its own study and work.  Representatives from the Sections meet together as a Collegium.  In North America there is one Collegium serving Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.  All members of the First Class belong to the General Anthroposophical Section, the Section common to all.

Individuals who are interested in the work of the First Class of the School for Spiritual Science should contact a local group or branch of the Anthroposophical Society. Detailed information about membership can be found in the booklet A Way of Serving: The General Anthroposophical Section of the School for Spiritual Science by Penelope Baring and Ruediger Janisch (Mercury Press, 2013).  This book may be ordered through www.mercurypress.org

The General Anthroposophical Section is both the starting point and the center of the School for Spiritual Science. Here a foundation is laid step by step for all branches of spiritual research. The three core subjects are:  anthroposophical study of the human being; evolution and the history of humanity; and the science of initiation. These fields cover the broad outlines of anthroposophy.  In 1924, Steiner developed the course of study based on meditative exercises that lead "the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe."  This is the basis for the work of the School for Spiritual Science.  It is also the background of the research, teaching, and training activities of the General Anthroposophical Section.

The work of the Section for Mathematics and Astronomy includes qualitative investigations into measure, number, and weight; studies on the morphology of the starry sky and its constellations; and cosmological study of the human being and rhythm research. Particular importance is attached to projective geometry as the foundation of a new morphology and physics.  Research on correspondences between the macrocosm and microcosm and on the place of the human being in this context draws the section into close collaboration with the pedagogical, medical, and agriculture fields.

The Medical Section devotes itself to medical and pharmaceutical research, as well as to training and continuing education of physicians, pharmacists, and therapists.  Faced with the pathogenic aspects of modern life, it supports "culturally therapeutic" causes, methodological plurality in scientific discourse, patient's right to choose, and the legal battle for complementary medicine. In its collaborative work with the artistic and scientific sections, two core questions of anthroposophical medicine are central: How does health arise? What is the nature of disease and healing?

By the beginning of the 20th century, science – biology, physics, chemistry – began hitting its own limits. The task of the Natural Science Section is to push beyond these limits, to explore further, to set out from new premises leading to new results and capacities. The foundation for its work is the scientific method developed by Goethe and further developed by Steiner.  The key question underlying all considerations is:  Can we, by honoring the appearances of the phenomena, reach a scientific understanding that is true to the living world, its supersensible dimensions, and its specific life connections?

In the Agricultural Section, the focus is on research, collaboration, and public representation in the areas of soil management, crop cultivation, animal husbandry, and the farm organism. Knowing and working with planetary-earthly correspondences is basic to the biodynamic method of agriculture as practiced worldwide. These experiences lead to social and economic perspectives, to insights and practical implications for market structuring and to associative activity on regional, national, and international levels.

For the Pedagogical Section, education is the foundation of social progress.  The seeds of self-determination, tolerance and peace, human rights, and international understanding are sown in education. This is the art of Waldorf pedagogy. The chief task of the Pedagogical Section is educational research and development based on the anthroposophical image of the human being. The Section supports ideas and initiatives to address the generational problems and the changing needs it perceives in children.

The Section for the Spiritual Striving of Youth sees its purpose more in connecting and advising than in research and teaching. It is a vibrant hub, a place of meeting, exchange, and stimulation. At the same time, it is a place to explore new initiatives and find ways to realize them. The essential aim of the Section is future oriented: to support young people in their spiritual striving, their need to understand the world, and their urge to be active.

The Section for Social Sciences is concerned with human relationships in the three spheres of social life:  economic, legal, and cultural/spiritual.  Depending on the sphere, different fundamental questions arise:  How are the basic needs of the world's population to be met? What responsibility does a good citizen bear for the common good? What does a human being need from the world in order to reach his or her potential? With such questions in mind, the Section conducts research, pursuing insight and creative forms in a variety of areas including: family culture, biography work, conflict resolution/peace studies, addiction, economics questions, and the science, practice, and politics of law.

The Section for the Arts of Eurythmy, Speech, Drama, and Music integrates these arts, bringing them to the life of stage and working in concert with other sections to develop their pedagogical and therapeutic potential. Based on a spiritual-scientific image of the human being, its aim is to make visible the complete human being, giving expression to supersensible forces and inherent laws that form the human constitution.  The Section is a training center engaged in teaching and research.

The Visual Arts Section embraces painting, sculpture and architecture, furniture design, glass engraving, color studies and plant-color research.  Art therapy and art education are also included through inter-sectional work.  The process of cultivating Steiner's artistic ideas and developing them further leads to creative working relationships, international exhibitions and events, lectures, colloquia and courses on artistic topics.

The work of the Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities is captured by its motto:  "In thought, develop sight."  Its aim: to cultivate and deepen the humanities through anthroposophy.  Literature and linguistics, aesthetics, history, philosophy, the history of music, and art history are within its purview. Central to its work are literature and poetry, linguistic explorations, and the cultivation of language itself, for language is the living link between content and form. The Section sees its task related to bridging the gap between art and science.