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Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Unit

Call for Proposals

The Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Program Unit invites proposals for individual papers on the question “Is chaplaincy the future of American spiritual/religious leadership?”

The question, which intends to spark dynamic conversation among practitioners, educators, and researchers, will help the program unit address a wide variety of pertinent topics, including:
-Sectors in need of chaplains and the needs of organizations seeking spiritual care for employees, students, etc.
-Demographic diversity from chaplaincy education through clinical training and leadership
-The function of chaplains in multifaith environments
-Decolonization from historically Christian hegemony in chaplaincy education and clinical pastoral education
-The wellbeing of chaplains in circumstances that may be conducive to moral distress or moral injury
-The impact of social science research on chaplaincy and dialogue between researchers and practitioners

Informing all of these discussions are a number of ongoing trends in American religion and spirituality, including:
-Shifts in American religious demographics
-Organizational and relational models of chaplaincy
-Cultural connotations of chaplaincy and the broader public’s understanding of chaplains’ work

Co-Sponsored Session: Moral Injury and Moral Distress in Chaplaincy (with Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Unit)
-How does the literature on moral injury and moral distress offer important and different contribution to the work of spiritual care and chaplaincy?
-How are chaplains, as care professionals, subject to moral injury and moral distress in the midst of their professional responsibilities and institutional contexts?

Co-Sponsored Session: Issues in Chaplaincy (with Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Unit)
In partnership with the Interreligious and Interfaith Studies Unit, we invite individual papers and panel proposals that address intersections of chaplaincy and interreligious studies. We are particularly interested in the following questions:
-How can we identify sites of demand for chaplaincy and spiritual care and help connect spiritual caregivers to those in need?
-How can we decolonize the historical Christian hegemony in chaplaincy education and CPE?
-How can chaplaincy training become more inclusive of diverse spiritual lifestances—learning not only about different religious and secular traditions but also from them?
-How can we also productively engage the broad range of communities in which chaplains may be working?

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 extend and make permanent the conversation begun through an exploratory session held at the AAR in November 2018. Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care breaks 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