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The emerging discipline of Spirituality Studies has undergone sea change in recent years. Once considered incompatible with academic scholarship, the field has proliferated in terms of institutional homes and peer-reviewed journals. While spirituality remains problematic—in terms of its subject, methods, pedagogies and even foundational definitions—its emergence as a field has been robust, spanning academic approaches, geographic locales and practical applications. This paper attempts to serve as a roadmap to the field. Moving from a religious concept to a sociological theory, the study of spirituality has been re-framed as a question of human experience. Scholars have broadened their interest to secular spirituality, and changing outlooks on the human condition have been employed to make sense of modern history. If spirituality is about the process of making and expressing meaning, important new questions have arisen with the growth of communication technologies and applications. New possibilities for expression and connection have necessarily reshaped current conceptualizations of spirituality. It has been operationalised in the study of all manners of physical and mental healing. Psychologists have examined its role in aging and dementia; addiction, coping, and resilience; and even creativity and personality. Nursing, social work, palliative care, psychiatry and other professions have reexamined its potential and place in the theory, teaching and praxis. These are especially meaningful because they mark the penetration of a once mystic concept into qualitative and quantitative science. Likewise, spirituality has become entwined with the emergence of environmentalism, giving birth to spiritual ecology, in keeping with the Gaia hypothesis. A further parallel, bio-spirituality has been coined to encapsulate the beliefs of those whose spiritual beliefs integrate with their vegetarianism. Drawing broadly on spirituality and its interdisciplinary literature, this paper assesses the state of the discipline, its current directions, and moves toward both consensus and enriching diversity.

In: Understanding New Perspectives of Spirituality