Chaplaincies in a “Post-Secular” Multicultural University


  • Adam Possamai University of Western Sydney
  • Arathi Sriprakash University of Cambridge
  • Ellen Brackenreg University of Western Sydney
  • John McGuire University of Western Sydney



Higher Education, Post-Secularism, Chaplaincy, faith-based organisations


As universities in Australia are faced with a growth in diversity and intensity of religion and spirituality on campus, this article explores the work of chaplains and its reception by students on a multi-campus suburban university. It finds that the religious work of these professionals is not the primary emphasis in the university context; what is of greater significance to students and the university institution is the broader pastoral and welfare-support role of chaplains. We discuss these findings in relation to post-secularism theory and the scaling down of state-provided welfare in public institutions such as universities.


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Author Biographies

Adam Possamai, University of Western Sydney

Adam Possamai is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Religion and Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney. He is the Past President of the RC22 on the Sociology of Religion from the International Sociological Association. His latest books are The Sociology of Shari’a: Case Studies from Around the World (edited with Jim Richardson and Bryan Turner, Springer, 2015), Religious Change and Indigenous Peoples: the Making of Religious Identities (with H. Onnudottir and B. Turner, Ashgate, 2013) and The Handbook of Hyper-Real Religions (as editor, Brill, 2012).

Arathi Sriprakash, University of Cambridge

Arathi Sriprakash is a sociologist with a strong interest in international development, multiculturalism and education reform. He is a Lecturer in Sociology of Education at the University of Cambridge.

Ellen Brackenreg, University of Western Sydney

Ellen Brackenreg is the Director of Student Support Services at the University of Western Sydney. As the Director of Student Support she has responsibility for a diverse range of student services which includes multi-faith chaplaincy. Her latest publications are in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management and The Australian Educational Researcher.

John McGuire, University of Western Sydney

John McGuire is a Lecturer of Sociology at in the School of Social Science and Psychology at the University of Western Sydney.


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How to Cite

Possamai, A., Sriprakash, A., Brackenreg, E., & McGuire, J. (2015). Chaplaincies in a “Post-Secular” Multicultural University. Fieldwork in Religion, 9(2), 147–165.




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