Brandeis and Boston University School of Theology awarded Henry Luce Foundation grant for Educating Effective Chaplains Project

Brandeis University and Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH)  are pleased to announce that the Henry Luce Foundation has awarded a three-year $500,000 grant to support the Educating Effective Chaplains Project, which will focus on three elements critical for preparing professional chaplains for effective ministry. The project is led by the team of BUSTH Associate Professor of Theology Dr. Shelly Rambo, and Brandeis University Professor of Sociology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, Dr. Wendy Cadge.

The Educating Effective Chaplains Project seeks to create a network of scholars and practitioners who will reshape the field of chaplaincy by developing foundational research and creating a common curriculum for spiritual care. Bringing representatives from diverse faith traditions and theological schools across the U.S. together, this project builds a network of scholars and practitioners (social scientists, clinical supervisors, professional chaplains, and theological educators) who will examine what education and training is needed to provide expert spiritual care in public spaces.

The three primary elements of the project are:

  • The synthesis of current scholarship and practitioner expertise about the nature of effective chaplaincy, in order to evaluate how theological schools can and should support development of successful chaplains
  • The identification of specific skills required for chaplaincy, both universally and in specific fields, such as in the military, within healthcare, and at correctional facilities, and the analysis of how theological education currently supports the development of these competencies, and
  • Support for theological educators in strengthening their scholarship, curricula, and partnerships with clinical educators to better train future generations of chaplains.

With the goal of effectively equipping chaplains for all professional settings, the project will attend to the spaces where chaplains and religious leaders are working in today’s society. Even as religious affiliations are declining, spiritual needs and questions are as significant and important as ever, and therefore the need for refining chaplaincy education is opportune.

“We are honored to receive this grant from the Henry Luce Foundation in support of cultivating religious leaders of the future,” said Professor Rambo. “In the rapidly changing landscape of theological education, this network has the potential to transform models of education for religious leaders doing frontline spiritual care.”

Professor Cadge, who is also the founder of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, said she is eager to bring theological educators together in a way that advances a common conversation. “This is exactly why we launched the Lab and we're so pleased to collaborate with Professor Rambo. Innovation in chaplaincy won't happen unless the next generation of chaplains


the very best training and education. This grant is going to help us build new curricula and new models of education to make that happen.”

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About Brandeis University
As a top-tier private research university with a focus on the liberal arts, Brandeis University is dedicated to teaching and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students, engaging them meaningfully in the groundbreaking research of our faculty. Founded by the American Jewish community in 1948 as a nonsectarian institution at a time when exclusionary practices prevented equal access to some of the nation’s best universities, Brandeis has always welcomed talented students and faculty of every ethnicity, religion and cultural background. Our 235-acre campus is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the suburbs of Boston, a global hub for higher education and innovation.

About Boston University School of Theology
Since 1839, Boston University School of Theology has been preparing leaders to do good. A seminary of the United Methodist Church, Boston University School of Theology is a robustly ecumenical institution that welcomes students from diverse faith traditions who are pursuing a wide range of vocations – parish ministry, conflict transformation, chaplaincy, campus ministry, administration, non-profit management, social work, teaching, justice advocacy, peacemaking, interfaith dialogue, and more. Our world-renowned faculty and strong heritage help students nurture their academic goals and realize any ministry imaginable. For more information, please visit


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