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International Network for the Study of Spirituality

Spirituality Scholars Network (SSN)

What is the SSN?

The Spirituality Scholars Network (SSN) supplements the networking opportunities provided by the INSS biennial conferences, the Journal for the Study of Spirituality, and the links to like-minded organisations shown on this website by providing and supporting a range of different activities throughout the year.

Image by Gerd Altmann , Pixabay

Initially designed to support students, early career researchers and independent scholars, the SSN continues to host symposia and other events in which participants can share and develop their on-going research and practice in a supportive and encouraging environment, whatever their level of experience.

The SSN now also hosts a number of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to enable participants to engage more deeply with a specific aspect of spirituality over a longer period of time.


A recent initiative of the SSN is an occasional informal event entitled

 'The Conversational'

Usually held across a lunchtime (UK time), its purpose is: "To provide time and space where scholars of spirituality in the broadest sense can join together to share and discuss thoughts, ideas, theories and practices on a wide range of topics and interests in deeper and more meaningful conversations than are often possible."

The next event will be held on 16 July, 12-13.30 BST, when we will explore:

Thomas Berry’s Spirituality of Earth, Meta-Religious Movement, and Reform of Law


Herman Greene

Remaining dates for  'The Conversational' gatherings in 2024 are:

 8 October - Dr Eleni Tzouramani Transforming organisational ontologies: Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona’s updated Ho’oponopono and its significance for organisational theory

5 November - Prof. Paul Dieppe - Healing and Medicine

 26 November - Dr Elmor van Staden (read more about Elmor's research interests)

all from 12.00 to 13.30 BST

Further details of each will be available nearer the time.

Save the dates - and join in the conversation!

If you would like to know more about the activities of the SSN, please contact Melanie Rogers (M.Rogers@hud.ac.uk) or Sophie MacKenzie (SMackenzie@aecc.ac.uk). If you are interested in participating in 'The Conversational', including presenting a topic, please contact Alex Pimor (alexandra.pimor@gmail.com or apimor@earthlaw.org)

We look forward to hearing from you!

The SSN story

The inaugural meeting of the SSN took place at the Third International BASS conference in May 2014.

Individuals researching spirituality within a wide range of disciplines and professions often work in relative isolation with few opportunities for the exchange and synthesis of ideas across institutional, organisational and/or subject boundaries. Doctoral students and early career researchers, in particular, may find it difficult to articulate and justify such work in settings dominated by more 'conventional' research. This is especially so if their own research also draws on methodological approaches that challenge existing paradigms. BASS initiated what was originally referred to as the 'Student Support Network' in an attempt to address these issues. 

On behalf of BASS, Cheryl Hunt applied  to the Blaker Education Fund (part of the Scientific and Medical Network) for ’seed money’ to help to support the development of the SSN. In October 2013, the sum of £600 was awarded for this purpose, enabling BASS to engage Sarah Watson on a part-time basis. Working with Cheryl Hunt and Wilf McSherry, Sarah identified and contacted a number of doctoral student groups and individuals, set up a Twitter account to encourage further contact and interaction, and invited participation in the inaugural meeting - which she subsequently facilitated.  

Wishing to acknowledge the inclusion of a number of post-doctoral researchers and scholars in the group while retaining the initials 'SSN' in its name, the group adopted the title 'Spirituality Support Network for Doctoral Students and Early Career Researchers'. For ease of use, this was subsequently shortened simply to 'Spirituality Support Network'. The more recent title, 'Spirituality Scholars Network', is felt to better reflect not only the supportive nature of the group but also its role in encouraging and developing scholarship in the field of spirituality studies through the establishment of Special Interest Groups (SIGS). These enable participants to explore interests in particular aspects of spirituality in greater depth in conversation with 'critical friends', The SSN is always open to ideas that will help to enhance and develop its work. It is currently looking at the possibility of hosting workshops in conjunction with other organisations with interests in spirituality

Throughout its various name changes, the purpose of the SSN, like its initials, has remained constant. Its aims are to:

  • provide a safe forum for the critical and open minded discussion of ideas that go beyond conventional paradigms and which are often difficult to articulate in research settings that are increasingly driven by a materialistic outcomes-based rationality;
  • integrate intuitive insights with rational analysis, acknowledging that spirituality can be understood viscerally and imaginally as well as cognitively;
  • emphasise the importance of spiritual and holistic approaches in research and practice within academic disciplines and professional practices.

Sarah Watson's report of the early development of the group and its inaugural meeting is available here. Recommendations from participants included the appointment of a representative of the SSN to the BASS Executive Committee; that the Twitter account should be facilitated by an active member of BASS; and that, in addition to holding a scheduled meeting at all subsequent BASS conferences, the SSN should also arrange independent meetings. The focus of the latter would be on practical skills such as writing workshops, disseminating research, proof-reading each other’s work, and inviting guest speakers; as well as providing a place of retreat and quiet and opportunities to explore personal spirituality.

Melanie Rogers was subsequently co-opted to the BASS Executive Committee as the SSN representative and, assisted by Cheryl Hunt, Wilf McSherry and Sophie Mackenzie, has since facilitated a number of symposia for SSN members and spirituality researchers, both F2F at the University of Huddersfield and online . Sophie Mackenzie has continued to maintain the X (Twitter) and Facebook accounts and Co-Chairs the SSN with Melanie. Both are now Directors and Trustees of INSS and welcome enquiries about, and participation in, the Spirituality Scholars Network from INSS members and others. Do get in touch!

Cheryl Hunt, November 2020


"The breadth of BASS makes it possible to speak of spirituality from any perspective. We find people who are receptive, and we gain strength from being able to share with each other." 

(S.H. Doctoral student, UK, first SSN meeting.)

Photo: Melanie Hawes - BASS  Conference, 

Highgate House, Northampton, UK

   About the network

The INSS is a unique international network for people interested in bringing the study of spirituality to life through research, scholarship, education and practice.


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