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Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Unit

Call for Proposals for November Meeting

The Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Unit seeks to gather scholars, researchers, and spiritual care providers who seek to explore the work of chaplaincy in both traditional and emerging settings. We welcome papers from a variety of perspectives, from quantitative research to theological reflection.  In 2024 we are particularly interested in:

  • Graduate and clinical training for chaplaincy: how are chaplains prepared (or not) to contribute expertise to their interdisciplinary settings? Are they expected to do too many things, consequently, without enough depth of training in any of them? Should and/or how do educators train those wishing to serve in emergent spaces, where spiritual needs exist, but paths to sustainable livelihood and professional standards do not yet exist? What should be the outcomes of graduate and clinical education for chaplaincy?
  • Scholarship: What recent and current research enhances our understanding of what recipients of spiritual care want and value from chaplains? How is the work of chaplains perceived where they work, and how do chaplains distinguish their work from other forms of ministry? In what disciplines are or should chaplains be studied, and how are chaplains participating in the creation of evidence-based practice or other standards and assessments of spiritual care?
  • Transforming suffering: How are chaplains responding to the impacts of climate crises, widespread grief and trauma, and inequity and injustice that is systemic and in our institutions? How are chaplains specializing in their work to meet the needs of specific populations (pediatric, incarcerated, unhoused, Hospice, psychological and substance use disorders, etc.) or challenges to the human and more-than-human world (eco-chaplaincy, social justice/movement chaplaincy, animal chaplaincy, prophetic chaplaincy, etc.)? How are chaplains-in-training and professionals supported in their own spiritual formation and maturation process of integration of personal spirituality with professional development? What must chaplains do to sustain their own spirituality in their work, and what does thriving as a chaplain look like given the intense emotional demands of the work?
  • The Presidential Theme, “Violence, Non-Violence, and the Margin,” as it relates to chaplaincy and spiritual care: We are interested in any related areas, such as whether and how the role of “chaplains” is co-opted for political agendas or to collude with institutional power that entails a violence; how chaplains uniquely serve marginalized peoples, advocate for non-harming, and interrogate uses of power; and perspectives of chaplains from minority religious or other minority or marginalized identities?

We remain open to other papers or roundtable proposals on chaplaincy in all its forms and settings as well. 


Call for Proposals for Online June Meeting

Same as above.

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