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Esther Thelen, Ph.D., G.C.F.P Research and Education Fund

The Feldenkrais® Educational Foundation of North America (FEFNA) established the Esther Thelen Research and Education Fund in 2005. This fund is named in honor of Esther Thelen, Ph.D., G.C.F.P., developmental psychologist and director of the Infant Motor Development Laboratory at Indiana University from 1985 to 2004. Prior to coming to Bloomington, Esther attended Antioch College and the University of Wisconsin. She completed an extensive longitudinal observational study of infant behavior for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Missouri and subsequently joined the faculty. Since 1979, Dr. Thelen’s research was continuously funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. She served as president of the International Society on Infant Studies and was president of the Society for Research in Child Development at the time of her death.

Dr. Thelen (1941-2004) was known worldwide for her contributions to the understanding of developmental processes from a dynamic systems theoretical perspective. However, she was not satisfied with sharing the results of her research within academic confines. Dr. Thelen was committed to dialogue across disciplines and with practitioners, policy makers, and the public in order to shape scientific inquiry and translate the resulting knowledge into practices that make positive changes for individuals and society. During the last decade of her life, the Feldenkrais community became an important vehicle for expressing this commitment. While Dr. Thelen significantly influenced many within the Feldenkrais community, she, in turn, integrated the Feldenkrais Method into her own life and completed her professional training in 2002. Dr. Thelen facilitated and contributed to several important exchanges among researchers and Feldenkrais practitioners that increased our profession’s interest in and understanding of the role of research. Her writings offer a theoretical framework that some have found to be applicable to the Feldenkrais Method. Her manner of interacting with students and colleagues was that of an exemplary Feldenkrais teacher. She catalyzed remarkable development within the Feldenkrais profession.

The three objectives of this fund reflect Esther Thelen’s commitments to principled scientific inquiry, professional and personal development, and translational actions that foster societal change:

  1. To provide grants for theoretically grounded research that extends and advances the Feldenkrais Method.
  2. To provide grants to Feldenkrais practitioners or students in professional training programs that promote development and training in conducting quality research.
  3. To provide grants for events or actions that bring together scientists and scholars, Feldenkrais practitioners, other professionals, policy makers, and the public for dialogue that facilitates improvement in the function and quality of individual lives and society.

At this time, the Thelen Fund is requesting proposals for Objective 1, research only, with a maximum annual grant of $1500. The firm application deadline for grant proposals is March 31, 2012. Award announcements will be made approximately 2 months after the deadline. For more information, please see the Guidelines and Application.

Under Objective 3, the Thelen Fund is excited to be spearheading the FeldSciNet project. The purpose of FeldSciNet is to provide an internet-based vehicle to promote networking and collaboration worldwide among members of the Feldenkrais Method® community and interested scientists, scholars and researchers. The goal is to foster the specific communication and coordination needed for collaborators to generate new research projects.

For more information about this project, see FeldSciNet Project Fact Sheet.

Become a supporter of the Thelen Fund

The Esther Thelen Research and Education Fund welcomes contributions in any amount. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor.*

Donations to the Esther Thelen Fund may be designated to support any of its three objectives (see above). Currently, we especially welcome contributions for: 1) “FeldSciNet” to support the FeldSciNet website project and other events or actions consistent with objective 3, 2) “research” to support research grants consistent with objective 1, or 3) left unspecified for use where most needed.

For more information about making a donation to the Esther Thelen Research and Education Fund, please contact FEFNA at 800-775-2118.

Thelen Fund contributors who donate by check may leave the memo blank to allow us to use your contribution where it is most needed, or specify its use for “FeldSciNet” or “research.”

Checks may be sent to:
5436 N. Albina Ave
Portland, OR 97217

Persons wishing to donate by credit card may call FEFNA at 800-775-2118.

*Consult your tax advisor. FEFNA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to promoting understanding of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education. The Esther Thelen Fund and FEFNA reserve the right to refuse any sponsorship application. Note that sponsors may only refer to the Feldenkrais Method.

The Esther Thelen Research Committee directs the Thelen Fund. Members include:

Pat Buchanan, PhD, ATC, PT, GCFT
Toledo, OH, USA
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Roger Russell, CFT, PT
Heidelberg, Germany

Jim Stephens, PhD, PT, GCFP
Havertown, PA, USA