2024 Conference Workshops

Workshop Session 1 (Monday 1:30 - 2:30pm)

Combating Black Trauma with Spirituality

Colleges around the country are attempting to address issues of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and fatigue all symptoms of racial trauma, also known as Black trauma. While these symptoms are enough to warrant strategic approaches to remedy, the health problems they can lead to – heart attacks, and hypertension – are even more issues of concern. Persons affected include young adults (ages 18-24), have reported more cases than average.

This workshop seeks to explore, and engage how faith and spirituality can become conduits of change and help to address and eradicate Black trauma especially in the lives of students of color. The ACSLHE Conference is a prime location to preach, teach, and reach fellow practitioners on topics regarding mental health. With this hope of empowering students with data, resources, techniques, and methods, the workshop seeks to inspire practitioners to serve as catalysts of social change on their campuses.

Presented by

Rev. Cecil Andrew Duffie, Ph.D., Dean, Julius S. Scott, Sr. Chapel &

Rev. Jonathan Tennial, D.Min., Assistant Director of Religious Life Wiley University

Sustaining Spiritual Balance during Localized Global Crisis

Often, those who are in the position and privilege of campus leadership, be it more academic, administrative, or more pastoral will be called on to react to conflicts and traumas that affect the students, faculty, and staff on campus. How do we find ways to react and keep up with the news, our communities, and our families and chosen families? How do we care about ourselves? This session will be a wholistic training on self-care and resiliency for chaplains and university administrators that have to react to the multitude of crises happening on campus, locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Authentic case studies and best practices will be provided. The presenter will cover practices based on the "wellness wheel" along with resiliency practices from global spiritual traditions to equip community servants and leaders with comprehensive tools to be able to continue to thrive in their work, their personal lives, and with themselves internally and externally as well. The attendees will have what they need to meet the great challenges on campus and continue to work in the field of university care and leadership after incidents of trauma.

Presented by

Adeel J. Zeb, Claremont Graduate University

Starting from Scratch? Steps Toward Building (& Renewing) Chaplaincy in Your Context

Looking for an opportunity to thinking strategically about a new or renewing context?

Starting chaplaincy in a new context can be a daunting experience. For others, trying to adapt your work to meet the needs of a changing student body can prove overwhelming. We are in a moment when many colleges and universities are still reeling from the pandemic and global events have shifted the role of chaplains and spiritual life professionals in higher education. Whether you are in a large state school or small liberal arts college, our students and how they engage with religion and spirituality has drastically changed, yet our work has proven more important now than ever.  How can we shift to meet this changing moment?

This workshop is designed to help folks in new contexts or those who are seeking to renew the direction of their work with the foundational tools (and permission!) to reflect, strategize, and plan for the shifting needs of their settings in 2024. The good news is that you don’t need to start from scratch! By engaging with a series of reflections, group conversations, and basic strategic planning, you will leave this workshop with the tools to help you rethink and renew your work. Additionally, you will gain colleagues and thought partners for the road.

Presented by

Matt Hoffman, Assistant Director for Initiatives for Identity, Inclusion & Belonging overseeing the Gathering Space for Spiritual Well-Being at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

It's All Interfaith Now: interpreting changing student religious identities

How do we describe changing patterns of student religious identity to our institutions, outside constituents, and our own students?  How do we describe students' multiple religious identities and complicated journeys?  Based in part on his Yale Divinity School class, Ian will set a frame for discussion about the incredible speed of the changes we're seeing, old and new language for describing identity today, and models for engaging students who don't fit the old categories. 

Come away with new language to describe our students' religious identities to different constituencies; explore our own presumptions and resistances to changing our categories; learn from each other about successful programs with our changing populations.

Presented by

Ian Oliver, Sr. Assoc. Chaplain, Yale University

*CANCELLED* Supporting and Serving Muslim College Students Holistically 

Using recent empirical, data-driven research we have conducted at the Center, our workshop will aim to educate institutional and religious leaders about Islamophobia and some of the major challenges Muslim students face in higher education today, including increased hate crimes targeting them and their communities, and threats to their rights to free speech and expression on campus. Through this workshop, we will provide information and resources regarding how to holistically support Muslim students by highlighting the intersectional nature of their college experiences, which may encompass their immigration status, national origin, as well as their racial, religious, and gender identities. To guide our discussion on the findings from our recent publications and relevant recommendations, we will introduce Ahmadi et al. 's (2019) Minoritized Religious and Spiritual Campus Climate framework, which examines the institution’s organizational and structural roles to facilitate a positive campus climate that supports religious and spiritual diversity in higher education. We will engage the audience by incorporating a worksheet with relevant questions regarding these topics so that leaders will be able to reflect meaningfully during and after the presentation about how they can best support Muslim students on their college campuses. Finally, our workshop will include tangible recommendations for institutional and religious leaders, faculty, and staff to implement on campuses, including ways to identify potential collaborative community partners to enhance necessary support and services for Muslim college students.

Presented by

Mabel E. Hernandez; Assistant Research Professor

and Milie Majumder; PhD Candidate, University of Southern California

Exploring the Belonging Frontier

Gen Z is the loneliest generation with 85% fearing making a new friend. This has far-reaching impact on their health (physical, mental, spiritual, civic), academic engagement and professional success. Yet they are also incredibly caring, creative agents who have the biggest stake in their own and peer’s thriving. So how as professionals can we approach loneliness and connection in expansive ways that empower students to create the nests of broad and deep relationships they and this lonely world need?

We will explore three outside-the-box approaches as learners (belonging stories, belonging mapping, and acts of belonging) and consider the obstacles and opportunities in our unique campus contexts.

Presented by

Cat Moore, Director of Belonging, University of Southern California

Workshops Session 2 (Monday 3:00 - 4:00pm)

Meet Me Here: Spiritual care for LGBTQ+ students

What does it mean, practically and spiritually, to “meet someone where they are at?” How might this look when reaching out to and supporting LGBTQ+ students? This workshop will be a facilitated dialogue to explore questions, creative strategies and impactful ways to engage with queer and trans students who have been harmed by, and/or are skeptical of religious spaces. We will share stories while developing a deeper understanding of the spiritual and existential needs of queer and trans students.

Presented by

Syd Yang, University of Southern California, Chaplain Intern;

MDiv student, University of the West. Syd is also an ordained Buddhist minister,

movement chaplain, writer, speaker, teacher and group facilitator

Structures, Spaces, and Symbols: Chaplaincy in Brick and Mortar

It is not uncommon for chaplains to inherit the structures, spaces, and symbols with and from which they are asked to care for their communities. While many of these inheritances have historical significance, chaplains face the challenge of what to “do” when they begin to lose their meaning as a result of expansive religious diversity on campus. If we are to accommodate a “soul boom” in a pluralistic religious campus community, chaplains must courageously face the challenges of how to adapt, transform, or build (perhaps after deconstructing) structures, spaces, and symbols for our students. This workshop invites chaplains to consider how to care beyond “words and worship” (i.e. pastoral conversation and religious services/programming) and to consider the power of renewing their structures and spaces to meet the diverse needs of students.

The workshop will open with the presenters sharing briefly about their journey in viewing chaplaincy and spiritual life as a DEI issue and how caring for students has led them to re-imagining how to transform their structures and spaces to advance belonging and inclusion on their campus. This includes how they use their university’s labyrinth as an interfaith structure, offer multiple “open rooms” for various spiritual practices, and plan for additional spatial, structural, and symbolic change.

The majority of the workshop will invite participants to think critically and creatively about how their own spaces, structures, and symbols invite religious pluralism and care for students—and what they can do to advance this work. The presenters will offer ample time for small groups to brainstorm and generate new ideas to share with the larger group.

Presented by

Rev. Justin West, Executive Director of the Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action and Chief Diversity Officer, Aurora University

The Rev. Dr. Mark Woolfington, University Chaplain, Aurora University

Student Loss and Remembrance: Navigating Memorials in a University Community

The death of a student in a university community is a tragic event. Grieving family members, friends, faculty, and others who knew the student may all have different needs for support to help cope with the loss and begin the healing process. Chaplains and Religious Life professionals often plan memorials, vigils, and offer ongoing grief care. This session will overview best practices for navigating student loss and remembrance.

Presented by

Sara Barton, University Chaplain, Pepperdine University

Body as Gateway: An Experiential Breathwork Workshop  and Discussion of Body-Based Spiritual Practices

Breathwork is a simple and transformative guided breathing practice. While different each time and for each person, common responses include emotional release, enhanced clarity, and even feelings of euphoria resulting from a state of transient hypofrontality induced by the practice. Simply put - the heart opens, and the mind clears. This is not meditation. This is not yoga. This is an active and energetic breathing practice designed to immediately shift your state of being.

Presented by

Harrison Blum, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, Amherst College

Tools & Research for Interfaith Advocacy on Campus

This session provides an overview of national-level research relevant to chaplains' advocacy for students of diverse religious identities and backgrounds. Researchers from the College Impact Lab at The Ohio State University will share updates to and findings from the INSPIRES Index, a national benchmarking assessment, and an introduction to INFORM, a new study of faculty religiosity.

The Interfaith Spiritual, Religious, and Secular (INSPIRES) Index is an assessment tool to help campuses evaluate areas of strength and improvement in creating campus climates that are welcoming for diverse religious, secular, and spiritual communities, and it provides campuses with tailored recommendations for practice. Due to generous funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, participation in the INSPIRES Index is free to campuses and is now in its third cycle, with a new module added Winter 2024. INFORM is a new nationally representative research study. Its goal is to better understand faculty religiosity and its impact on teaching and learning. Join this session to learn about these two projects and how you might utilize them in your work.

Presented by

Renee Bowling & Dr. Matthew J. Mayhew

Workshop Session 3 (Tuesday 10:45 - 11:45am)

The Charioteer Chaplain: a Hindu Framework to Help Us Reimagine Spiritual Care

Innovations and evolution notwithstanding, higher ed chaplaincy largely remains,“a job invented and in many ways still defined by liberal Protestant tradition.” (Blumenthal, 2013).  As the field of college chaplaincy grows, however, caregivers from non-Christian traditions often find ourselves negotiating tension. On the one hand, we situate ourselves within a rich history of pastoral care, and  seek to benefit from it, adapting what has worked for Christians to our own community. At the same time, we realize that beyond merely “plugging in” to historical models, we must inquire into the role played by our own traditions in reimagining approaches to caregiving in theory and practice. How might the frameworks and paradigms of these other faiths show up, “at the intersection of tradition and innovation, secularity and the sacred, and in some ways, hope and despair”? (Forster-Smith, 2013) In this spirit, this workshop will invite us to interrogate and reimagine models of spiritual caregiving in two ways. In the first part, the presenter will draw from historical research and the lived experience of caring for Hindu-American emerging adults to suggest a theological framework to navigate spiritual formation in the context of the college experience. In the second, the presenter will facilitate an exploration of  how this framework illustrates the potential for non-Christian traditions to offer insights or modalities that all chaplains (including Christian ones) may find resonant or refreshing, and may thus help us to reimagine chaplaincy in an interreligious and interfaith world. 

Presented by

Dr. Vineet Chander, Assistant Dean, Office of Religious Life, Princeton University

Spiritual Companionship and Multi/racial Experience(s)

In this workshop, the presenter will share findings from his latest book which encompasses the topics of contemporary spirituality, critical race theory, and spiritual care for mixed-race young adults. As the multiracial population, is one of the fasting growing racial groups in California and in the USA, this workshop will assist participants in better understanding the complexities and insights that mixed-race perspectives can offer our spiritual communities.‚ÄčThis workshop is for anyone who is interested in providing spiritual companionship at the intersections of contemplative practice and racial justice and who desires to grow in their social awareness around the racialized dynamics at work in the USA.

Presented by

Rev. Dr. Aizaiah Yong, Claremont School of Theology

Deep Listening in Times of Conflict

Spiritual leaders on campus are tasked with the responsibility of responding to crises at home and abroad by holding compassionate space for students and colleagues, often times with and for community members whose experiences differ greatly from their own. When offering support to those whose worldviews and experiences diverge significantly with our own, how can we show up fully to honor the humanity and dignity of all those involved? This workshop will highlight a portion of Interfaith America’s Bridging the Gap curriculum focused on deep listening across deep difference. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on their existing listening practices and areas where they feel these practices may be strengthened. Participants will then experience Bridging the Gap’s unique deep listening framework, beginning with extending the invitation to bridge-building dialogue. Finally, in a safe and supportive space, participants will practice new listening skills with peers and reflect on areas of growth and how these skills will be applicable on their own campuses.

Presented by

Tina Grace, Program Manager at Interfaith America

Managing Conflict and Maintaining Harmony: Chaplaincy's role after October 7.

Hamas' Incursion into Israel on October 7 and Israel's subsequent response in Gaza have created major conflicts and difficulties on several campuses around the country. Colgate, with its relatively large population of Jewish students and vocal alumni donors a smaller but very active Muslim population, and significant numbers of students sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians, has not had these difficulties. A large part of the reason for this is the ongoing collaborative work of chaplains, particularly in recent partnerships between Colgate's Rabbi and Imam. This workshop will describe the steps that were and are being taken as the ongoing situation unfolds, with a view toward providing lessons and insight that might assist chaplains at other institutions.

Presented by

Barry R. Baron, University Chaplain, Campus Rabbi, and Staff Lecturer in Jewish Studies, Colgate University

Ahmet Celik, Campus Imam and Instructor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Colgate University, and Ph.D. Candidate in Religion, Syracuse University

Holding Paradox Together: Connecting with the Earth and Our Emotions

In engaging concepts of rebirth and renewal, it is essential to reflect on how the intertwining of the two opens up possibilities and helps us hold paradox and healing. In this workshop, we will encounter, engage and explore beyond binaries. This workshop was developed to support students, faculty and staff in our Conservation Management program and is offered in an interfaith way, grounded in our respective traditions.  While developed with environmental concerns in mind, the exercises and interactions can be more broadly applied to support students, faculty and staff in holding paradox together.

In the work of conservation, we can find ourselves stuck - perhaps caught by emotions of sadness, emptiness, loss and fear. We might feel that they are in direct contention to emotions of joy, celebration, community, and compassion. Working through three exercises, Hindu Chaplain Preeta Banerjee and Protestant Chaplain Rev. Daniel Bell will support expanding our capacity to hold often false binaries and to find more integrated ways in life and work.

Presented by

Dr. Preeta M. Banerjee, Hindu Chaplain, Tufts University 

Rev. Dan Bell, Protestant Chaplain, Tufts University

The Necessity of Death in Rebirth + Renewal: An Ecological Approach to Chaplaincy

As chaplaincy and spiritual care takes new forms and continues to adapt and change with the world around us, many of us are holding on to things that no longer serve us, our students, or our institutions. There has been a necessary rise in diversity amongst chaplains as institutions continue to grow in religious pluralism including that of humanism and agnosticism. However, with these changes we have not always allowed ourselves to let go of activities that we see steeped in tradition. When we look at an ecological approach to rebirth and renewal there is a necessity of death. As fall comes the leaves return to the ground and fertilize the land underneath. Farmers are also taught to let the land breathe after a certain number of seasons to allow it to replenish its natural nutrients. What we and institutions do not always see is the necessity of death. To make room for what is needed we need to let things go, even if they are things we are passionate about and see value in ourselves. This workshop will take us through the necessity of death in the rebirth and renewal cycle with time to sit with and identify what we may need to let go of in order to let new growth blossom. 

Presented by

Alexandra Miller-Knaack, Emory University

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