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International network for

the study of spirituality

Spirituality Scholars' Network (SSN)

What is the SSN?

The Spirituality Scholars’ Network (SSN) is an initiative of the International Network for of the Study of Spirituality (INSS). SSN aims to support postgraduate, early career researchers and scholars in sharing their interests, experiences and projects in the field of spirituality studies. 

We hold regular symposia, where scholars of spirituality are encouraged to share their work in a supportive and encouraging environment.

Applications are invited from scholars wishing to display an Abstract of their doctoral thesis on the INSS networking pages. Please email Melanie if you wish to share yours. 

Image: acky24,  Pixabay


The SSN also hosts an occasional event entitled

'The Conversational'.

This is intended to provide a time and space where scholars of spirituality in the broadest sense can join together to share and discuss thoughts, ideas, theories and practices in deeper and more meaningful conversations than are often possible on a wide range of topics and interests.

If you are interested in joining the SSN, please contact Melanie Rogers (M.Rogers@hud.ac.uk), Sophie MacKenzie (sophie.mackenzie@city.ac.uk) or Alex Pimor (A.Pimor@ljmu.ac.uk)

We look forward to hearing from you!

Theses by INSS members

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 helping to encourage and develop scholarship in the field of spirituality studies. 

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 has since facilitated two research symposia at the University of Huddersfield for SSN members and spirituality researchers. Sophie Mackenzie has continued to maintain the Twitter and Facebook accounts and Co-Chairs the SSN with Melanie. Both are now Directors and Trustees of INSS and would welcome enquiries about, and participation in, the Spirituality Scholars' Network from INSS members and others. Do get in touch!

Cheryl Hunt, November 2020

   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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