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International Network for the Study of Spirituality

Executive Committee

Joan Walton (Chair)

Joan Walton

Dr Joan Walton PhD, MSocSci, DipSW, PGCert, DipSW, BA(Hons)

Joan has been Senior Lecturer at York St John University since 2014, in the School of Education, Languages and Psychology.  In her early career, she was a social worker with children and families, then a lecturer on a professional social work course.  Following this, she initiated an independent education centre which she led for 15 years, before achieving her PhD in 2008, and joining the Faculty of Education at Liverpool Hope University.  She has had a lifelong interest in spirituality, and in the various interpretations of the relationship between science and spirituality.  This has led to her taking an active interest in the phenomenon of consciousness, which, to quote Christian de Quincey, is 'our deepest mystery and our most intimate reality'.   She is a Director of the Scientific and Medical Network, a worldwide professional community for enquiry into themes bridging science, spirituality and consciousness.   

Cheryl Hunt (Research and Scholarship Co-ordinator)

Dr Cheryl Hunt PhD, MEd (Continuing Education), DipEd (QTS), BA (Hons Psychol)  (University of Sheffield)

Cheryl is the Founding Editora current Executive Editor, and former Editor-in-Chief (2010-2023) of the Journal for the Study of Spirituality. A member of the original Steering Group for BASS (now INSS) which was convened in 2007, she has served on the Executive Committee since its inception, including as Vice-President (2014-2020). 

Cheryl worked as a practitioner in adult and community education for many years before moving into academia. Developing innovative work in the use of critical reflective practice, she has since designed and directed a range of action-research and collaborative inquiry projects as well as doctoral and other postgraduate and professional development programmes. Her teaching and research interests in community education, transformative learning and critical reflection led her, via a doctoral thesis exploring the nature of 'community', into a study of spirituality informed by Gaia theory and the concept of different ways of knowing. She has since published and lectured extensively on these topics and the links between them. Her book Critical Reflection, Spirituality and Professional Practice (Palgrave Macmillan) further explores these links. Cheryl is currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK, where she was Director of the Professional Doctorates Programme. She is Co-Editor of the book series Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality (Springer). She is a former Executive Editor of the journal Teaching in Higher Education where she also had particular responsibility for editing the 'Points of Departure‘ section (a title she bestowed on it) which continues to encourage submissions that move away from the standard academic paper into more experimental territory. Cheryl is passionate about the use of educational processes that enable people to explore and develop their own meaning-making; to take a critical perspective which challenges orthodoxies; and to give voice to hitherto submerged knowledge which can make a difference both personally and politically.

Further information and links to selected publications:

Critical Reflection, Spirituality and Professional Practice (2021. London: Palgrave Macmillan)

Journal for the Study of Spirituality (All Editorials are free to access)

'"Doing" reflective practice and understanding spirituality as a way of being: Implications for professional and transformative practice' (Article based on Keynote Lecture given at the 2023 INSS International Conference)

Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality (Springer).


Armando Lüscher (Digital Infrastructure Manager)

Armando Lüscher is a passionate software programmer with a wide range of skills and a flair for scouring systems, to find bugs and set them free. He has the ability to dive into an existing project, quickly comprehend the structure and how different parts interact with each other, and see ways of improving and building new features. “Optimize” is his favourite word!

As an open-source developer who cares a lot about free software, he contributes in various ways. Offering support by helping developers and users understand and implement software, forms part of his daily routine.

He has an irksome sensitivity to spelling and typographical errors, which he puts to good use as a proofreader. Be it technical documentation, books, articles or menus, they can all benefit from some loving attention.

Away from the keyboard, he enjoys listening to trance & electronic music and loves watching movies that have a meaningful story to tell. As a budding permaculturist, looking at his surroundings in a more holistic way has changed his understanding and way of looking at nature.

Spending time with his wife and just being together is definitely on his top list of favourite activities.

Personal website: https://noplanman.ch

Sophie MacKenzie (Social Media Co-ordinator)

Dr Sophie MacKenzie is a qualified speech and language therapist of 30 years, who has been teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate speech and language therapy (SLT) students since 2007. She currently works as a lecturer in SLT at City, University of London. Her main interests lie in the essence of therapy, person-centred healthcare and spirituality. Her PhD explored the stories people with severe expressive aphasia tell about their spirituality. Sophie has been a member of BASS since 2014, and was one of the co-founders of the Spirituality Scholars’ Network. She runs the INSS twitter feed (@INSSpirituality) and the Facebook page for spirituality scholars (INSS Spirituality Scholars Network).

Helen McSherry (Honorary Treasurer)

Mrs Helen McSherry has diverse experience in project management, administration and book keeping having worked for a range of private businesses and voluntary sector organisations. Her interests in spirituality are broad and wide-ranging, encompassing religious and secular approaches. She manages the Trussell Trust food bank in Market Drayton, Shropshire and is actively engaged in the work of a number of other charitable organisations.

Wilfred McSherry (Co-Editor-in-Chief, Journal for the Study of Spirituality)

Prof. Wilfred McSherry is a Professor in Nursing working in a joint appointment between Department of Nursing, School of Health and Social Care, Staffordshire University and the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust United Kingdom and part-time Professor at VID University College, Bergen, Norway.

Wilf has had a career in nursing working as a Registered Nurse primarily within Acute Hospital Care with a focus upon care of the older person and end of life care. His interest in the spiritual dimension developed alongside a realisation that this aspect of care was neglected and forgotten by some healthcare professionals. He has published extensively in this field with several books and many articles addressing different aspects of the spiritual dimension. In 2010 Wilf led on a piece of work for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) exploring members perceptions of spirituality.

Wilf is a founding and executive member of the British Association for The Study of Spirituality (BASS)  and a Principal Fellow of The Higher Education Academy. In 2012 he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing for his unique contribution to nursing in the areas of spirituality and dignity. Wilf co-led (with 5 other partners) a Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership European project titled Enhancing Nurses Competence in Providing Spiritual Care through Innovation Education and Compassionate Care (EPICC) website: http://www.epicc-project.eu/

Katja Milner (Membership Secretary)

Dr Katja Milner (PhD, MSc, PG Cert, BA [Hons]) completed her ESRC Doctoral research at the Institute of Mental Health and Department of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, UK. Her thesis explores the role of spirituality in mental health and recovery from the perspective of lived experience. It aims to help bridge what has been highlighted as a spirituality gap in understanding the importance of people’s spiritual experiences and needs, which are often neglected within clinical practice. It does this through a qualitative systematic review and the production of an evidence-based conceptual framework (MISTIC Framework). It includes an in-depth narrative analysis of the ways in which people describe meaning making, psychospiritual development and spiritual connection in their stories of spirituality, mental health and recovery.  

Katja has worked across an extensive range of mental health settings for 15 years prior to engaging in her PhD research. Most recently she was involved in developing a pioneering new role as a spiritual care practitioner and then as spirituality lead in an NHS mental healthcare trust. Katja has completed an MSc in Mental Health and Social Care, a PG Certificate in Psychological Therapies, and a BA (Hons) in Psychology. She has also undertaken Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy training for NHS mental health contexts, a Religion and Health Research Summer School at the Centre for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University, USA, and she has attained an Associate Fellow award in teaching in Higher Education in the UK. Katja is interested in developing teaching, training and educational approaches towards spirituality, mental health, recovery and wellbeing, as well as furthering research and evidence. She co-chairs the INSS Mental Health and Wellbeing SIG and is interested in collaborations with others.  

Further information and links:



Michael O’Sullivan (Links Co-ordinator)

 Dr Michael O’Sullivan (PhD, LicTh, MTh, BDiv (Hons), BacPhil (Hons), BSocSc (Hons) has   been   a member of   BASS - now INSS - since its birth, and of its Board of Directors since   2017. He is     also a     member of the Editorial Board of the INSS journal, Journal for the Study   of Spirituality   (JSS).

 Michael is Co-founder, Executive Director, and Treasurer of the Spirituality Institute for   Research and Education in Dublin, Ireland (https://spiritualityinstitute.ie). He was Director of the Higher Dip and MA in   Applied   Spirituality when they were awards of the National University of Ireland (2005-11),   Director of the   MA in Applied Spirituality when it was an award of Dublin City University (2011-15), and founding   programme leader of the MA in Applied Spirituality at South East Technological University (2016-2022).   He is Emeritus Senior Lecturer and foundng member of the Spirituality in Society and the Professions Research Group at South East Technological University (SETU), in Waterford, Ireland, a research fellow at the University of the Free State, South Africa, a member of the leadership board of the Centre for the Academic Study of Christian Spirituality at the University of Zurich, a founder-member of the International Relations Committee of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS), which is linked to the American Academy of Religion (AAR), President of that scholarly society, having previously served as its Vice President, member of its Governing Board, and of its Board of Directors. He has served as a member of the editorial board of Spiritus, the Society's journal, since 2011, and is a former member of the steering committee of the Christian Spirituality Study Group of the AAR. He is also a fellow of the European Institute for Spirituality in Economics and Society (SPES), a research associate of the Centre for the Study of Spirituality at the University of Hull, a member of the Spirituality in Research and Innovation Group (SRIG) at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, a member of the American Academy of Religion and of Spiritual Directors International (SDI).

Michael has presented at international conferences in different parts of the world, including at BASS/INSS conferences. He was the lead organiser and chair of the INSS conference in SETU, Waterford, Ireland, in 2023, the first time the biennial conference was held outside the UK. He has published extensively and some of his work is available on YouTube and in podcasts; and national media interviews with him extend back to the 1970s..His research interests include ‘authentic subjectivity as a framework for the study of spirituality’, ‘spirituality in childhood as foundational in a life’, ‘spirituality and social transformation’, and ‘spiritual capital’. He is Irish, a Jesuit priest, and has worked in South and Central America, and East Africa.

Further information and links to selected publications:






PURE: https://research.wit.ie/en/persons/michael-osullivan

Melanie Rogers (Spirituality Scholars Network and SIG Co-ordinator)

Professor Melanie Rogers is a National and University Teaching Fellow for Advanced Practice and Spirituality at the University of Huddersfield in the UK. She is Professor of Advanced Practice and Spirituality. She is also an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care as well as the Director of the International Council of Nurses, Nurse Practitioner/Advanced Practice Nurse Network Global Academy of Research. She is a Queens Nurse having been awarded this title for her work in practice and education. She has worked as a nurse for over 25 years having trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. She has worked in many settings including acute medicine, endocrinology, gynaecology, oncology and emergency care in the UK and Canada before training to be a Nurse Practitioner in 1998.

Prof Rogers is passionate about advanced practice as a way of providing the care needed at the point of need for patients. She set up and is chair for the Spirituality & Compassion Special Interest Group at the University of Huddersfield and has successful run several large conferences focusing on spirituality and health.  Her work and research has focused on spirituality and how to provide truly holistic care to patients and her doctoral studies have led to a spirituality framework for Nurse Practitioners to help patients find hope, meaning and purpose during times of illness and challenge. She been a member of BASS for many years and co-chairs the spirituality scholars’ network. She has run a number of research symposia for the network.

She has multiple publications on clinical aspects of advanced practice and spirituality, she has also co- edited book on Spiritually Competent Practice. She has recently edited a book on spirituality and advanced practice nursing.

Further information and links to selected publications: 


Linda Ross (Co-Editor-in-Chief, Journal for the Study of Spirituality)

Prof. Linda Ross BA, RGN, PhD, FHEA 

Linda is a Professor of Nursing (specialising in spirituality) at the University of South Wales. Her PhD in 1992 was the first in Europe to explore nurses’ perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care which she published as a book in 1997. She has published extensively on the subject of spirituality, contributing to numerous texts such as the ‘Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare’ (Cobb, Rumbold & Puchalski, 2012) and ‘Spiritual Assessment in Healthcare Practice (McSherry & Ross, 2010). For the last 30 years such has led numerous research studies on spiritual care in both nursing practice and nurse education, as well as leading training workshops and seminars for healthcare staff internationally. She contributed to the Royal College of Nursing’s ‘Spirituality in nursing Care' educational resources’, and to the spiritual care guidance which accompanies the Welsh Government’s Health and Care Standards (2015).  She is a founding member and Membership Secretary for INSS and an Executive Editor for its affiliated journal ‘Journal for the Study of Spirituality’.  She is also an editor for the Journal of Health & Social Care Chaplaincy. She co-led (with 5 other partners) an Erasmus funded 3 year project to establish best practice in spiritual care nurse education across Europe (www.epicc-project.eu).

Further information and links to selected publications:

David Rousseau (Company Secretary)

Dr David Rousseau is the Director of the Centre for Systems Philosophy, UK, a Research Associate in the College of Engineering in Oregon State University, USA, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.

His current focus is on developing a methodology, grounded in Systems Philosophy and General Systems Theory, for use broadly in exploratory research but specifically tailored for analysing exceptional human experiences.  David has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2013 and has served as the Company Secretary since 2014.  He is also a Trustee of the Alister Hardy Society (since 2018).  He has been a Trustee of the Society for Psychical Research since 2003, where he has in the past served as Treasurer and as Chair of the Research Activities Committee.  Since 2013 he has been a member of the Research Committee of the Religious Experience Research Centre in the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, UK, and he is a co-founding Editorial Board Member of the Centre’s Journal for the Study of Religious Experience (since 2014).  He has been since 2012 a full member of the Centre for Spirituality Studies in the University of Hull, UK, where he is also a Visiting Fellow in the Centre for Systems Studies (since 2013).    He is also a member of the Scientific Council of the Bertalanffy Centre for the Study of Systems Science in Vienna, Austria (since 2015), and a past Editor-in-Chief of their journal Systema (2013-2016).  Since 2018 he has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the International Federation for Systems Research’s book series on Systems Science and Systems Engineering (Springer).  He is a past President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (2017/18) and since 2018 the Chair of their Board of Trustees. 

He has since 2010 published more than 40 articles in the Journal for the Study of Spirituality, the Journal of Scientific Exploration, the Journal of Near-Death StudiesZygon: Journal of Religion and Science, the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, and a range of journals in Systems Science and Systems Engineering.  He contributed the chapter on “Philosophy and Spirituality” to the Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions (2019), and the chapter on “Anomalous Cognition and the Case for Mind-Body Dualism” to Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism, and Science (Praeger, 2 vols, 2015).  In the last decade he has additionally contributed to four books in Systems Science and Systems Engineering.

Louise Spiers (2025 Conference Co-ordinator)

 Dr Louse Spiers  (PhD, M.A., Dip Psych, Cert Psych., Dip Arch., B.A. [Hons], UKCDP, MBAP, ACTO) is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Counselling at The University of Northampton where she teaches on counselling, research and spirituality modules. After a life transition, she began her PhD, exploring Transpersonal Experiences in individuals with epilepsy, which she was awarded in 2022. Louise is the co-lead of the Exceptional Experience and Consciousness Studies (EECS) special interest research group in the Centre for Psychology and Social Sciences and is passionate about qualitative research into the phenomenology of experiences that are otherwise pathologized or silenced. Research interests include mystical, anomalous and transpersonal experiences, clinical parapsychology and spirituality in epilepsy. Louise combines experience-near personal research with more traditional approaches. She has published a chapter on the use of autoethnography to understand spirituality in Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health (Schmidt & Leonard 2020) and another on autoethnography in Storying the Self (Adamson & Moriarty 2022). Her current project, utilising Early Career Research Funding, is to provide a more discriminating type of categorisation of spirituality in epilepsy than has previously been undertaken, and to answer the research question ‘Do individuals with all types of epilepsy report associated anomalous experiences and which experiences do they have?’

In addition to her academic roles, Louise has a private practice as a Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor, where she uses creative therapeutic methods including the use of dreams and archetypal symbolism to facilitate healing in adult clients. Clients with anomalous and exceptional experiences are frequently drawn to her practice. She has an interest in researching spirituality in psychotherapy, transpersonal practices in therapy, and the wounded healer, and is exploring the possibility of psychedelics in therapeutic healing.

Further information and links to research activity



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