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The pandemics of the past year have pressed spiritual care providers to find radical new ways to provide care--from going virtual for the first time to becoming first-line responders. Others have been sidelined by the pandemic, reflecting a disparate impact on chaplaincy depending on the setting and institution where it takes place. We invite papers and panels on spiritual care responses to the pandemics (i.e., health, economic, racial, environmental, political) including critical religious/spiritual reflection on responses during the past year. Preference will be given to papers and panels that bring chaplains, educators and scholars into conversation and that are based on empirical research and include theoretical reflection on the assumptions that guide the work.

We recognize also that chaplains must be grounded in their own spiritual or religious tradition(s) while remaining radically open to caring across spiritual/religious difference. We invite papers and panels to discuss what, in training and educating chaplains and spiritual care givers, are innovative pedagogical strategies or approaches that are grounded in specific traditions, and draw resources from those traditions, to be able to provide care to individuals from other backgrounds?

Mission Statement:

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 extend and make permanent the conversation begun through an exploratory session held at the AAR in November 2018. Innovations in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care breaks 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.

Method of Submission:

INSPIRE, E-mail with Attachment (proposal is in attachment, not in body of e-mail)



Wendy Cadge, wcadge@brandeis.edu

Michael Skaggs, mskaggs@brandeis.edu


Steering Committee:

Duane Bidwell, duane.bidwell@gmail.com

Trace Haythorn, trace.haythorn@acpe.edu

Celene Ibrahim, cal731@mail.harvard.edu

Sarah Jobe, sarah.jobe@duke.edu

Daijaku Judith Kinst, daijaku@shin-ibs.edu

Aaron Klink, aaron.klink@duke.edu

Shelly Rambo, srambo@bu.edu

Monica Sanford, monica.mostly@gmail.com


Session Allotment: Tier 1 – Two 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2024