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.
Widely deployable in matters of meaning and philosophy
After completion of my Master's degree programme in Spiritual Care, I worked at the University Hospital in Groningen and as head supervisor in an organization that offers children and young people with behavioural problems a place to stay away from home for a few weeks.
Currently, I work as a spiritual counsellor at Talant for two days a week; this is an organization in Friesland that offers care for the intellectually disabled. In this capacity, I can be there for people who, for whatever reason, don’t fully fit into today’s society. In doing so, I experience genuine contact, and I am pleasantly surprised by people’s honesty and openness in every conversation. Alongside client interviews, we conduct group sessions, and moral deliberations. Organizing and hosting themed evenings every now and then is also part of my duties.
In addition, I work for Geestelijke Verzorging Aardbevingsgebied Groningen (GVA), an organization that offers spiritual care in the Groningen earthquake zone, for two days a week. I find this role challenging in another way; it is a new organization which I helped to set up. The earthquake problems are very close to my heart, and the fact that I can use my expertise in the area where I grew up feels like a special opportunity. I am contributing to the development of a training course on signalling and discussing life questions. This involves many meetings with care professionals throughout the province, so I am on the road a lot.
I perceive the exercises in interview techniques and group dynamics that we did during my Master's degree programme as very valuable, both for my own development and as preparation for all sorts of social situations in the field. Also, the fact that I have learnt to see religion as a part of culture and of people’s life stories has made me widely deployable in matters of meaning and philosophy.’
Prangende vragen t.a.v. de toekomst van werk
In 2016 studeerde ik in de master Geestelijke Verzorging af op het onderwerp 'werk en zingeving'. In het dagelijks leven ben ik loopbaanadviseur. Wat ik leerde tijdens de studie kan ik volop inzetten in de gesprekken die ik voer met mensen met een loopbaanvraag.
Rond het thema werk spelen vaak zingevingsvragen, bijvoorbeeld bij omgaan met (baanverlies), het hervinden van de zin in werk na een ingrijpende levensgebeurtenis of door grote veranderingen in het werk. Denk dan bijvoorbeeld aan grootschalige automatisering in de bankensector, waardoor klantcontact een heel andere invulling heeft gekregen en medewerkers zich soms afvragen wat de betekenis van hun werk nog is.
Werk, ook onbetaald, is voor veel mensen een belangrijke bron voor welzijn en zingeving. Werk kan een plek zijn waar we gezien en gewaardeerd worden, waar we deel zijn van een gemeenschap. Werk geeft structuur aan ons leven en werk geeft bestaanszekerheid. Welzijn in werk kan echter onder druk komen te staan door snelle technologische veranderingen en grote prestatiedruk. We zijn in steeds grotere mate persoonlijk verantwoordelijk geworden voor onze employability en moeten zelfsturend zijn. Wat betekenen deze ontwikkelingen voor ons welzijn op het werk? Hoe kunnen we ervoor zorgen dat werk een plek is waar iedereen zich thuis voelt? Welke stappen kunnen organisaties zetten om betekenisvol te zijn en te blijven? Hoe gaan we om met ethische vragen rond bepaalde technologische ontwikkelingen? Allemaal vragen die te maken hebben met zingeving.
Mijn grote interesse in de onderwerp ‘mens en werk’ en ‘mens en zingeving’ zorgde ervoor dat ik in 2019 aan deze faculteit met een promotieonderzoek naar ‘werk en zingeving’ ben gestart. In dit onderzoek richt ik mij op wat zingevend werk is, hoe arbeidsomstandigheden en -ontwikkelingen het welzijn van medewerkers beïnvloeden (denk aan automatisering, flexibilisering, individualisering en globalisering) en op waar we antwoorden kunnen vinden op de meest prangende vragen t.a.v. de toekomst van werk. Ik hoop een bijdrage te gaan leveren aan een zinvolle arbeidsmarkt. Ik zal de komende jaren nauw betrokken zijn bij de master werk en zingeving.
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. Below, you will find the complete programme.
Students without a bachelor's degree in Arts/Humanities or Behavioural and Social Sciences may be exempted from the requirement to complete a pre-master's programme first under certain conditions.
1st semester (30 ECTS)
2nd semester (30 ECTS)
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.