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Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Unit

Call for Proposals

For the 2023 Annual Meeting, Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care will host two sessions: an open call for all research related to chaplaincy and spiritual care and a co-hosted session with Religions, Medicines, and Healing.


Session One: Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care

We welcome papers on any topic related to chaplaincy and spiritual care including but not limited to: training and educational pathways for work in these fields, the interfaith aspects of chaplaincy and spiritual care, models for interfaith spiritual care that emerge out of a specific religious, theological, or historical tradition, research on chaplaincy and spiritual care in a variety of settings including prisons, hospitals, the military, universities, and businesses but expanding to political movements and other growing sectors for chaplaincy, navigating difference in spiritual care along lines of race, sexuality, gender identity, class, religious tradition, and experience. The above topics are simply a glimpse at the wide breadth of possible topics. Our unit is interested in all cutting-edge research and critical reflection on the fields of chaplaincy and spiritual care from both scholars and practitioners.


Session Two: Chaplains and “Spiritual Care” in Healthcare Settings – (co-sponsored with the Religions, Medicines, and Healing Unit)

Wendy Cadge’s Spiritual Care: The Everyday Work of Chaplains (OUP 2022) adds to a growing body of studies about chaplaincy from scholars of religion. Her work examines chaplains as “America's hidden religious leaders,” contextualizing the spiritual care of chaplains within their diverse religious and workplace ecologies. For this session, we are particularly interested in her contributions regarding chaplaincy in its multiple relations to healthcare settings. We are seeking engagements with this book from a wide range of perspectives—from various scholarly disciplines to direct engagements with embedded practices—as well as from a wide range of voices, including scholars and practitioners, a diversity of religious backgrounds and identities, and multiple viewpoints on the nature of healing and of spiritual care. We are also interested in some panelists addressing how we teach Cadge’s work or train future healthcare professionals about religion and the role of chaplains in light of her contributions.

Statement of Purpose

Chaplaincy is becoming more and more central to the religious/spiritual experiences of individuals and communities in the world. Shifts in religious leadership, religious/spiritual affiliation, and theological education are all occurring at a rapid pace; this unit helps shape AAR as the primary academic home of these discussions. This unit is not only academic in nature; its work is consonant with the AAR’s commitment to the public application of scholarship taking place within the Academy. This unit gathers researchers, educators, and broad-minded practitioners to break down the barriers between these siloed communities and draws them into a common conversation on how best to meet individuals’ and communities’ spiritual needs today. Doing so requires: • translating the research needed to support the work of accompanying individuals through growth, change, and struggle; • investigating how chaplaincy provision is shaped by the people it is offered to and the institutions within which it is provided; • asking how chaplains can be more effectively present in settings currently lacking spiritual care providers for those in need and how those chaplains can respond most effectively to the increasingly diverse religious landscape. The mission of Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care is to improve how chaplains are trained, how they work with diverse individuals (including those with no religious or spiritual backgrounds), and how chaplaincy and spiritual care coheres as a professional field.


Steering Committee Members





Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members