Bernard Lievegoed

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Bernard Lievegoed
Bernard lievegoed.jpg
Born 2 September 1905
Medan, Sumatra
Died 12 December 1992
Zeist, the Netherlands
Education Doctor of Medicine and Psychiatry
Occupation Psychiatrist, Consultant for Organizational Development, Writer

Bernardus Cornelis Johannes Lievegoed (2 September 1905, Medan – 12 December 1992, Zeist) was a Dutch medical doctor, psychiatrist and author. He is most famous for establishing a theory of organizational development. He founded the N.P.I., or Netherlands Pedagogical Institute, which works with organizations and individuals to help these realize their economic, social and cultural goals. He also founded the Vrije Hogeschool in Driebergen. [1]

Medan City in Sumatra, Indonesia

Medan ; is the capital of North Sumatra province in Indonesia. Located along the northeastern coast of Sumatra island, Medan is the fourth biggest city by population in Indonesia, behind Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung. With 2,097,610 inhabitants at the 2010 census, Medan remains the largest settlement outside Java island and enjoys a diversity of multicultural peoples. Bordered by the Strait of Malacca, Medan is a busy trading city around the island as located near the strait which is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. Medan is the gateway to the western part of Indonesia, accessible via the Port of Belawan and Kualanamu International Airport, stated the city as the third largest city in the country by economy after Jakarta and Surabaya, this city economy is linked well with Malaysian cities and Singapore by trade, service and natural resource exchanges. Both the seaport and the airport are connected to the city center via toll road and railway. Medan also became the first city in Indonesia to have an airport supported with train service.

Zeist Municipality in Utrecht, Netherlands

Zeist is a municipality and a town in the central Netherlands, located east of the city of Utrecht.

Driebergen Place in Utrecht, Netherlands

Driebergen is a former village and municipality in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is first mentioned as Thriberghen in 1159. The former municipality of Driebergen existed until 1931, when it merged with Rijsenburg, to create the new municipality of Driebergen-Rijsenburg. In later years, due to growth of the villages of Driebergen and Rijsenburg, the villages themselves also merged, to become the single town of Driebergen-Rijsenburg. Since 2006, Driebergen-Rijsenburg is part of the new municipality Utrechtse Heuvelrug.



Bernard Lievegoed was born in Medan, Sumatra (then the Dutch East Indies) in 1905. At nine, his family moved for three years to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. From 1917-22, Lievegoed attended high school in Java. In 1924, he began a study of medicine in Groningen, taking a doctorate in 1928. In this same year he first became aware of anthroposophical remedial education; this encounter was to play a large role in his further development. In 1930 he completed the medical degree in Amsterdam and became a general practitioner in Bosch in Duin (near Zeist).

Sumatra island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands

Sumatra is a large island in western Indonesia that is part of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island that is located entirely in Indonesia and the sixth-largest island in the world at 473,481 km2.

Dutch East Indies Dutch possession in Southeast Asia between 1810-1945

The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony consisting of what is now Indonesia. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Dutch government in 1800.

Rotterdam Municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Rotterdam is the second-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands. It is located in the province of South Holland, at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas channel leading into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta at the North Sea. Its history goes back to 1270, when a dam was constructed in the Rotte, after which people settled around it for safety. In 1340, Rotterdam was granted city rights by the Count of Holland.

In 1931 Lievegoed founded the Zonnehuis, [2] a home for children with disabilities, in Bosch in Duin. The Zonnehuis was later relocated to Zeist and, in the course of its expansion its name was changed to the Zonnehuizen Veldheim Steinia te Zeist. Lievegoed was the director of this institution from its founding until 1954.

In 1932 Lievegoed helped to found the Vrije School (free Waldorf school) of Zeist. In 1939 he did a higher doctorate (promotion) with a thesis about the therapeutic use of music. In 1946 he published the first of a number of books, Ontwikkelingsfasen van het kind; this was translated into eight languages and appeared in English as Phases of Childhood.

Waldorf education

Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. Its pedagogy strives to develop pupils' intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner. The cultivation of pupils' imagination and creativity is a central focus.

From 1948-1953 Lievegoed was a consultant for assistance to uneducated working-class children. During this time he published Planetenwirken und Lebensprozesse in Mensch und Erde (Planetary Influences and Life Processes in the Human Being and the Earth). In 1952 he cofounded the Vrij Geestesleven publishing house, oriented towards publishing works related to spiritual science. He became a member of the national commission on technical high schools; he served in this capacity until 1962.

In 1954 he founded the institution that became his life-work, the NPI. The original name, the Dutch Pedagogic Institute for Economics, was later changed to NPI: Institute for Organizational Development. [3] He led this institute (in Zeist) for the next 17 years publishing The Developing Organisation in 1969 (published in English by Tavistock in 1973) with colleagues in the firm, notably Hans von Sasson, arguably the first influential European book on organisation development (. [4] In 1955 he became extraordinary professor for social pedagogy at the Dutch Economic College (now Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 1961 he helped to found a new technical college in Twente (now Twente University), which opened in 1964. Here he served as professor of social economics and Dean of the Economics Department until 1973. During this time he supported the work of the Kind en Instrument Foundation, out of which the international Choroi instrument-making workshops arose, and founded an association for therapeutic educators. With his colleagues in NPI he developed Theory U, which later developed as an influential management concept popularized by Otto Scharmer. [5]

Theory U

Theory U is a change management method and the title of a book by Otto Scharmer. During his doctoral studies at Witten/Herdecke University, Scharmer studied a similar method in classes taught by Friedrich (Fritz) Glasl, whom he also interviewed. Scharmer then took the basic principles of this method and extended it into a theory of learning and management, which he calls Theory U. The principles of Theory U are suggested to help political leaders, civil servants, and managers break through past unproductive patterns of behavior that prevent them from empathizing with their clients' perspectives and often lock them into ineffective patterns of decision making.

Otto Scharmer economist

Claus Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a Thousand Talents Program Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that aims to help "stakeholders from business, government, civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system".

Between 1968 and 1976 Lievegoed was chair of a governmental commission on education that was given the task of transforming the educational system in the Netherlands. During this time he published a number of works (titles are given in approximate English translation): Organizational Development, Social Structures in Therapeutic Education, The Spiritual Impulse behind the Movement for Therapeutic Education, Towards the 21st Century and, together with his wife Nel Lievegoed-Schatborn, Aspects of Therapeutic Education. In 1971 he founded an independent university, the Vrije Hogeschool, in Driebergen. He was Dean of the University for the next eleven years.

In 1973 he left Erasmus University to cofound and become the managing director of the Vrije Pedagogisch Akademie, now Hogeschool Helicon (Helicon College). Over the next years, he published several more books: Phases (De levensloop van de mens, translated into eleven languages), Mystery Streams in Europe and the New Mysteries, and Organic Architecture. He joined the governmental commission on alternative medicine (1977–1981).

In 1983 Lievegoed published a play (De wadlopers, The Marsh-Flats) and another book, Man on the Threshold: Possibilities and Problems of Inner Development. He received the Gouden Ganzenveer honoring his cultural contributions; [6] the report cited his complete works as the basis for the prize. Further publications: Contemplations on the Foundation Stone (1987), About Cultural Institutions (1988), Through the Eye of the Needle (1991) and About the Salvation of the Soul (published posthumously in 1993).

Lievegoed died on 12 December 1992 in Zeist.

Books by Bernard Lievegoed

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  4. Foreword by Ronnie Lessem in the 1991 Blackwell edition
  5. Senge, Peter M., Scharmer, C. Otto, Jaworski, Joseph, Flowers, Betty Sue, 2004, Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society
  6. "Laureaten De Gouden Ganzenveer vanaf 1955". Stichting De Gouden Ganzenveer. 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-28.