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Humanist Chaplaincy Studies for a Plural Society

Expertise centre on meaning-of-life issues and chaplaincy

  • Start: 1 October 2021
  • Ends: 2024
  • Status: ongoing

As of 1 October 2021, the University of Humanistic Studies has teamed up with the University of Groningen, the Protestant Theological University and 12 other social and scientific partners to establish an expertise centre on meaning-of-life issues and chaplaincy (Dutch name: Kenniswerkplaats Zingeving en Geestelijke Verzorging). As of 1 October 2022, the expertise centre  has expanded to include  Zorg voor Zingeving Thuis (Care for Meaning at Home) and seven more new partners have joined.

The centre serves to increase a general awareness of meaning-of-life issues and to further professionalise chaplaincy services at home and care for meaning in primary care and the social domain. The project receives funding from the ZonMw programme Zingeving en Geestelijke verzorging


The expertise centre focuses on four activities: 

  • building a knowledge infrastructure;
  • knowledge development on specific themes in learning networks; 
  • performing effect research in chaplaincy care at home and overarching research in care for meaning at home
  • further development of expertise in primary care and social domain.

To this end, the knowledge and experience of all kinds of relevant parties are brought together. Researchers, professionals and clients work together in the development of knowledge for education and professional practice. This is of great added value for the developing field of sense-making and chaplaincy. 

Knowledge infrastructure

The expertise centre will consolidate the collaboration between education, research and organisations providing care and services in the social domain, with regard to meaning-of-life issues and chaplaincy. They will collaborate on drawing up a research agenda for home chaplaincy services, as well as for other professions involved in first-line chaplaincy care and in the social domain. There will also be a central consultation database for all sorts of relevant knowledge.  

Learning community 

The learning community consists of 16 learning networks involved in developing knowledge and practices regarding themes that are relevant to home chaplaincy. The topics of the learning networks are: 

  • people with a mental disability living independently in the neighbourhood
  • moral distress among veterans
  • interprofessional cooperation
  • chaplaincy in the earthquake area of Groningen
  • denominational diversity
  • hope in people with a chronic physical or psychiatric disorder
  • children’s palliative care
  • low-literacy and poverty
  • interprofessional chaplaincy
  • homeless people with judicial documentation
  • dementia care
  • meaningful waiting time
  • care for meaning in drop-in centres
  • care for meaning for people from migrant backgrounds
  • students and young professionals
  • young people in Limburg and North Brabant

Outcome research chaplaincy at home

The outcome research focuses on goals, needs, methods and outcomes of chaplaincy in the home situation. Existing data from research on chaplaincy at home and data from the learning networks will be used to better map the needs of clients, interventions by chaplains and their outcomes. All this contributes to a better understanding of the practices of chaplaincy at home and its benefits for clients and society. 

Research care for meaning

The overarching research in the expansion of the Knowledge Workshop is around three lines: meaning-making needs, differentiation and expertise development.

Sector projects

The sector projects are aimed at (further) developing expertise in the field of care and well-being. These are projects for seven professional groups, focusing on Care for Meaning in the Home situation. In each branch project, professional associations, practice institutions, knowledge institutions and client representatives work together on three components:  

  • a needs survey on care for meaning among clients/patients and professionals
  • a knowledge synthesis
  • the (further) development of an educational module

Researchers (core group)

  • Prof. Gaby Jacobs (project leader), University of Humanistic Studies
  • Prof. J.K. Muthert, University of Groningen
  • Dr. H.J. Olsman, Protestant Theological University
  • Dr. C. Schuhmann, University of Humanistic Studies
  • Dr. A. Visser-Nieraeth, University of Groningen
  • Ir. V. Vaarten, innovation and development WMO Radar
  • Jorika Baarda, project manager University of Humanistic Studies


  • Universitities: Protestantse Theologische Universiteit, Radboud Universiteit, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Tilburg University, Universiteit voor Humanistiek (penvoerder), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • University Medical Centers: Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Radboud UMC, UMC Utrecht
  • Universities of Applied Sciences: Fontys Hogeschool, Hogeschool Rotterdam, Hogeschool VIAA, Hogeschool Windesheim
  • Professional associations: Vereniging van Geestelijk VerZorgers (VGVZ), V&VN, Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (NOV)
  • Organisations in care and welfare: Centrum voor Levensvragen Amsterdam-Diemen (NPZA), Gezondheidscentrum evinas, Jeugdhulp Friesland, 't PGCJ, Projectgroep GV Thuis/Agora, WMO Radar


The project has been granted funding through the ZonMw-programme Zingeving en Geestelijke verzorging.

Also see


Projectmanager Jorika Baarda,
Chair Prof. Gaby Jacobs,
General contact address:

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The University of Humanistic Studies has teamed up with the University of Groningen, the Protestant Theological University and 12 other social and scientific partners to establish an expertise centre on meaning-of-life issues and chaplaincy.