|Chaplain Innovation Lab
In 2018, Wendy Cadge and William Skaggs at Brandeis University in Massachussetts launched a Chaplaincy Innovation Lab (https://chaplaincyinnovation.org/). The aim of their research is to ask how chaplains across many sectors are trained, what the demand is for their work, how that demand has changed with growing religious diversity, and what business models enable chaplains to provide the best services to diverse groups.
A list of the projects that they have included in this study can be found at https://chaplaincyinnovation.org/projects.
The Lab’s goal is to understand chaplaincy, contextualize it, show social scientifically that it is of benefit to people, and to think with individuals and institutions about how it can be provided in professional, ethically-appropriate, and equitable ways (Wendy Cadge and Michael Skaggs, “Chaplaincy? Spiritual Care? Innovation? A Case Statement,” https://chaplaincyinnovation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Cadge-Skaggs-2018.pdf, p. 3).
Part of the reason for their research has to do with the changing landscape of American religious life. While attendance in congregations and belief in God has been declining, a spiritual sense of wellbeing, a sense of wonder about the universe, and meditation have been increasing. Chaplaincy fits into this overall picture because of chaplains’ mandate to support people in their spirituality rather than convert them in order to become part of a faith community. An outline of their research has been included on this website to show how prison chaplaincy fits into this overall mandate.
The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab networks researchers, chaplains, and educators to better prepare spiritual caregivers to work in today’s changing religious landscape. Current Project Leaders are working on research and educational projects in a range of settings. They report on their projects through the Lab’s monthly newsletter and social media. Project leaders also mentor someone junior to them, either through their project or more generally.
If you’re working on an empirically-based research project about chaplaincy or spiritual care, consider affiliating with us. Complete the application form to learn more. We also welcome professional associations and educational groups as partners. Please email Michael Skaggs at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.