Reconsidering Humanist Chaplaincy for a Plural Society

The Implications for Higher Professional Education


  • Gaby Jacobs University of Humanistic Studies
  • Annelieke Damen University of Humanistic Studies
  • Caroline Suransky University of Humanistic Studies
  • Laurens ten Kate University of Humanistic Studies



secularization, plural society, professionalization, chaplaincy, healthcare, education, humanism


Recent developments in Dutch society and its healthcare system pose new challenges to humanist chaplaincy. Thus far, chaplaincy has been predominantly rooted in institutionalized religion, but it now has to serve a diversity of people who are increasingly secularized with personal ways of worldviewing. Moreover, chaplaincy is increasingly becoming a profession like many others, reducing the focus on its worldviewing competencies. The main question this article addresses is what this implies for the education of chaplains, more specifically for humanist chaplains who are educated on a Master’s level course at the University of Humanistic Studies. Using the concepts of interprofessional learning communities (Stoll & Seashore Louis, 2007) and dialogical professionalism (Jacobs, 2010), two visions are put forward for developing the education of humanist chaplains that might also be relevant for other chaplaincy educational programs.

Author Biographies

Gaby Jacobs, University of Humanistic Studies

Gaby Jacobs is Professor in Chaplaincy Studies at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Her research areas include professional identity development, community chaplaincy care, and participatory action research on strengthening spiritual care in healthcare organizations.

Annelieke Damen, University of Humanistic Studies

Annelieke Damen is a PhD candidate at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on (outcomes of) chaplaincy and spiritual care. She has published on research priorities for chaplains and chaplaincy outcomes.

Caroline Suransky, University of Humanistic Studies

Caroline Suransky is Associate Professor in Social Change and Higher Education at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht.

Laurens ten Kate, University of Humanistic Studies

Laurens ten Kate is a philosopher and theologian. He is Associate Professor in Philosophy and Religious Studies and as an Endowed Professor of Liberal Religiosity and Humanism at the University of Humanist Studies in Utrecht.


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How to Cite

Jacobs, G., Damen, A., Suransky, C., & Kate, L. ten. (2021). Reconsidering Humanist Chaplaincy for a Plural Society: The Implications for Higher Professional Education. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 9(1), 80–96.

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