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University chaplaincy provisions: taking the religion out?

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Albeit fragmented and largely uncoordinated, there is currently considerable debate regarding the nature and rationale of university chaplaincy provisions in England and Wales. Clearly chaplaincies have repositioned themselves from an exclusively Christian ethical and service-based provider to cater for the challenging demands of a multi-faith student body. Today, further changes can be observed suggesting chaplaincies are progressively departing from their narrow ‘religious’ base. There is now a discernible tentative step in some quarters towards encompassing all-embracing holistic visions of ‘well-being’. At the same time, chaplaincies are encouraged to respond to the wider contribution of universities towards the lauded virtues of the ‘Big Society’. This article overviews such developments, briefly tracing the evolution of competing philosophies, and considers some possible implications including the unintended consequence of the demise of chaplaincies themselves.
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Keywords: Christianity; chaplaincies; multi-faith; spirituality; universities; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Health & Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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