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Humanist Chaplaincy Studies for a Plural Society

Expertise centre on meaning-of-life issues and chaplaincy

  • Start: 1 October 2021
  • End: 2023
  • 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’). The centre serves to increase a general awareness of meaning-of-life issues and to further professionalise chaplaincy services at home. It receives funding from the ZonMw programme Zingeving en Geestelijke verzorging. Gaby Jacobs, professor in Humanist Chaplaincy Studies, is the project leader.


The expertise centre will concentrate on three goals: 

  1. building a knowledge infrastructure
  2. starting a learning community
  3. performing impact research

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 10 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.

Outcome research

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. 

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
  • Jorika Baarda, project manager University of Humanistic Studies


University of Groningen, Protestant Theological University, Stichting Agora, Vereniging van Geestelijk VerZorgers (VGVZ), Tilburg University,  Radboud University, VU Amsterdam, Radboud UMC, Hogeschool Windesheim, Fontys Hogeschool Theologie en Levensbeschouwing, Hogeschool VIAA, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, WMO Radar, V&VN. 


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

Also see

ZonMw programme page, Zingeving en geestelijke verzorging.


Projectmanager Jorika Baarda,
Chair Prof. Gaby Jacobs,

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.