How does work contribute to wellbeing? What role does religion and spirituality play in our experience of health and wellbeing? How does the biomedical focus of current healthcare practice affect us?
This interdisciplinary degree programme examines what it means to be ill or healthy in diverse, individualized and highly technological societies, from psychological, cultural, ethical, and political perspectives. Not only does religious diversity influence how we try to recover or maintain our health, it also influences what we think 'health' is in the first place and what we consider meaningfull work.
This track within the Master's Programme in Theology and Religious Studies, has three specializations:
The specialization in Ethics and Diversity imparts the academic knowledge and skills to examine the anthropological, sociological, and ethical dimensions of health and well-being. This specialization is taught in English. The other two specializations are taught in Dutch. See the Dutch page of this website for information on the Dutch taught specilizations.
The reciprocity is what makes the work inspiring
The decision to study Spiritual Care in Groningen was an important one for me, as I believe it was for many other students. Indeed, it was the consequence of personal development and events in my life until then. After my studies in Industrial Engineering and Management, I witnessed spiritual care at my volunteer job in a hospice. I thought it was a very special profession.
The UG degree programme in general spiritual care appealed to me because I don't adhere to any one religion. Plus, I could follow the Master's degree programme after a shortened pre-Master's programme. What I like about the Master's is how the course units combine an academic level with a focus on practice. Psychopathology & Religion is a good example of this. They challenge you to reflect on the theory and your own position in it as a future spiritual carer. The combination of course units and a placement also spark a different learning process: that of dealing with stress and (re)claiming your own space and inspiration to function properly as a spiritual carer.
I now work as a spiritual carer at the UMCG, where I did my placement. I enjoy working in a hospital very much. On the one hand because it is about collaborating with other care providers in a dynamic organization; on the other hand because it allows you to counsel people at a precarious time in their lives: being sick and hospitalized is often a very profound experience. It is a time at which existential questions may arise and spiritual care may be needed. In the hustle and bustle of a hospital environment, spiritual care enables you to focus on the effects of illness on a person, but also to find someone's sources of strength and inspiration. I believe that the conversations we have can be wholesome and rewarding for patients and spiritual carers alike. So you could say there is reciprocity in our relationships with people, which makes the work inspiring for me.
A solid basis for practice
What attracted me in Spiritual Care was its attention to meaning
and existential questions. The opportunity to become an independent
spiritual carer made the Groningen programme ideal for me. The
atmosphere was open, with students and lecturers stimulating each
other and critically exploring each other's views.
Everyone showed geniality, interest, commitment and an eye for context, without making concessions to academic quality – exactly the qualities of a good spiritual carer! I now realize that the theory I gained in course units like Psychopathology and Religion and Care Ethics are not only a solid basis in daily practice, but they also help me reflect on that practice.
I really love my job as a spiritual carer in nursing homes. I was drawn to elderly care because of its special way of communicating with residents. My creativity is constantly being challenged there by questions like: how can I get through to residents? What do their seemingly unrelated statements mean? How can I connect with their reality? My tasks here are very diverse. Of course I talk to people, in groups and individually. But I also provide palliative care and lead liturgical services and memorial services in the residents’ living room. In addition, I participate in various networks, such as the Alzheimer Café and the Palliative Network, and I keep in touch with spiritual carers and ministers in the area.
Since my graduation, I have gained so much experience that I returned to the Faculty recently. Not as a student, but as a lecturer, teaching the course unit in Conversation Techniques and Group Dynamics and to supervise internships of students in Spiritual Care.
Understanding “the bigger picture”
When I followed the minor “Religion in the Modern World” at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies during my bachelor's in Pedagogical Sciences, I realized how important it is to learn to understand different perspectives in today's society. After my bachelor's degree, I was seeking a master's degree where students would be broadly trained so that the "bigger picture" could be better understood.
So far I have been very enthusiastic about the Religion, Health & Wellbeing - Ethics & Diversity master's programme. Social issues are approached from different disciplines such as anthropology (my personal favorite), philosophy and history. Additionally, we are challenged to think critically about the texts we read. Because of the small scale, there is a positive atmosphere and there is a lot of room for discussion and feedback.
Until now, Gender, Religion and Sexuality has been my favorite course unit. The construct gender was approached from different religions, from a Western and non-Western point of view and from different disciplines. I enjoyed this course with great pleasure and it was often really eye-opening. It was interesting to understand a little better how the meaning of gender and sexuality is shaped by religion, culture and history, among other things.
I am going to write my thesis about the possible consequences of the new law on citizenship education for a diverse society. I don't know exactly what I want to do after my master's, but I think I would like to work for a non-profit organization.
If you do not have a bachelor's degree in either the Humanities or Behavioural and Social Sciences, you will first need to complete a pre-master's programme before you can enter this master's programme. There are several electives you can choose from. Below, you will find the complete programme.
1st semester (30 ECTS)
2nd semester (30 ECTS)
If you have followed minor courses in Theology or Religious Studies, it might be possible to follow a shorter pre-master's programme. Please contact our student advisors to see what the options are.
For the Dutch taught specialization in Spiritual Care, you need to follow a different pre-master's programme.
For the pre-master's programme, you will pay a so called compensation in stead of regular tuition fees. This compensation is the same for both EU and non-EU students.