Camphill Academy’s History

The Camphill Movement was founded in the 1940s by Austrian physician Karl Koenig (1902-1966), together with a group of other refugees from Austria and Germany, in Aberdeen, Scotland. As a movement for community-building and social renewal, Camphill has been involved in the practice of curative education, social therapy and related endeavors since its beginnings.

With the spread of the Camphill Movement to North America in the 1960s, professional training in curative education and social therapy also became available on this continent, through what was then known as the ‘Camphill Seminar’, with courses at Camphill Special School in Pennsylvania and at Camphill Village USA in Copake, New York.

In September 1979, the first conference of the newly founded International Council for Curative Education and Social Therapy, a department of the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science, took place at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. From 1979 on, and into the 1980s, faculty members of the Camphill Seminar took part in regular conferences, bringing together faculty from the various Camphill Seminars that had grown throughout the international Camphill Movement.

More recently, in the years leading up to 2004, a committee of the Camphill Association in North America, the ‘Regional Adult Education Group’, met regularly to discuss the development of the various adult and professional education activities in the North American Camphill communities. As a result of these discussions, the Core Faculty of the Curative Education Program at Camphill Special School began to redevelop the entire curriculum of that program in 2003/04, resulting in a four year course that allows students to earn over 100 semester hours of college credit and earn a BA by enrolling in a suitable degree completion program (such as Prescott College) during a fifth year, while completing the internship to obtain the Diploma in Curative Education. The first graduate of this program received his BA degree in October 2008.

Simultaneously, and in cooperation with the Curative Education Core Faculty at Camphill Special School, the Core Faculty of the Social Therapy Program at Camphill Village USA was also actively engaged in curriculum development, with a view to eventually opening up a route towards degree completion here as well. Since October 2010, this program has also been carrying college credit recommendations, and since 2013/14, all four years of the Social Therapy Program curriculum have been offered.

Cooperation between both programs and faculty groups deepened and eventually broadened to include other Camphill communities and Camphill-inspired communities throughout North America under the name ‘Camphill School of Curative Education and Social Therapy’. In 2007/08, the Community-Based Extension (CBE), a network of faculty from smaller communities offering the Social Therapy Program, was created. In 2012/13, Camphill Communities California, which had established its own training program in social therapy in 2008/09, joined the ‘Camphill School of Curative Education and Social Therapy’ and aligned its curriculum with the Social Therapy Program and in 2014/15 the Cascadia Society in British Colombia followed suit.

In 2013, the name of the umbrella entity was changed to ‘Camphill Academy’ and a new non-profit corporation by that name was formed to eventually take over full responsibility for these activities. Currently, Camphill Special School continues to be the legal owner of the programs, while preparations are under way for the full transfer of ownership to the new entity.