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Humanist chaplaincy studies for a plural society

Chair group

Humanist chaplaincy studies for a plural society 

You can also have a look on the Dutch website.


Prof Gaby Jacobs

Short introduction into the research field

The world of chaplaincy is very much in development. Due to globalisation and secularisation, new forms of spirituality, morality and meaning are emerging, in people’s personal lives but also in communities and organisations. But it is difficult to find words, to find language, for questions concerning meaning, spirituality and values, and it is hard to make room for it amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As more and more churches shut their doors for good, where can we turn to for meaning and spirituality? 

We are looking forward to developing insights into the currently evolving and new practices of chaplaincy, by performing in-depth research (both quantitative and qualitative) into the processes and methods at work here , and how they contribute to supporting individual people, groups and organisations, or to helping them develop. This includes (participative) action research to help shape developments and so contribute to new chaplaincy practices, processes and methods. Chaplaincy does and should not operate in a vacuum, however. Working closely with other professional groups and informal supporters from perspectives of ‘relational agency’ and ‘boundary crossing’, in order to meet people’s existential, spiritual and moral needs in a rapidly changing world, will also form a specific area of attention. 

Example of PhD research

One example of a PhD research project currently underway that fits within the chair group’s discipline is Annelieke Damen’s study into the effects of chaplaincy in hospital care and primary health care in the Netherlands and the United States. The study comprises several subprojects:

  •  a quantitative research into patient satisfaction about hospital care including chaplaincy (Rush University Medical Center, Chicago); 
  • a mixed-methods research into the chaplain as a trainer of volunteers in chaplaincy (Een Goed Gesprek, Levinas, Rotterdam); 
  • a mixed-methods research into the quality of life of palliative patients supported by a chaplain as part of primary healthcare (PLOEG); 
  • a quantitative research into the quality of life of palliative patients supported by a chaplain as part of hospital care (eQUIPE, IKNL).

Supervised by professor Gaby Jacobs.