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Humanist Chaplaincy Studies for a Plural Society

Expertise centre on meaning-of-life issues and chaplaincy

  • Period: 2019-2023
  • Status: ongoing

The University of Humanistic Studies has teamed up with the University of Groningen, the Protestant Theological University and several other 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. launching a learning community
  3. performing impact research

The knowledge and experience of a variety of relevant partners will be brought together to achieve these goals. The project is highly significant for the present development of the field of meanings of life and chaplaincy. It will promote the exchange of knowledge, experience and research in the practical field. It will also help researchers and professionals to jointly develop and align their knowledge, and to transmit this knowledge to the educational and care sectors.

The Expertise Centre will consolidate the collaboration between education, research and care organisations 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.  

The learning community consists of 10 learning networks involved in developing knowledge and practices regarding themes that are relevant to home chaplaincy. These themes are: people with a handicap; moral distress among workers; interprofessional work; chaplaincy in response to disasters; denominational diversity; hope among mental health care clients; children’s palliative care; low literacy and poverty; recognising and probing meaning-of-life needs; socially homeless people. 

The research seeks to verify the impact of home chaplaincy practices through the 10 learning networks. The research will also draw on existing data obtained through previous home chaplaincy research to better map out clients’ needs and chaplains’ interventions, and the results. All this will contribute to a better understanding of the practices of home chaplaincy and what this delivers for clients and society in general.

Researchers (core group)

  • Prof. G.C. 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


The University of Humanistic Studies, the University of Groningen and the Protestant Theological University together make up the centre’s core team. Many other parties are involved:
Stuurgroep GV Thuis, VGVZ, Tilburg School of Theology, Radboud Universiteit, Vrije Universiteit 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.


Prof. Gaby Jacobs,

The workshop is aimed at increasing the attention for meaning and the professionalization of spiritual care at home and is funded with the help of the ZonMw programme 'Zingeving en Geestelijke verzorging'.