The sixth international conference of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality (BASS) will take place at York St John University, York, UK, from 1-3 June 2020. The theme will be ‘Spirituality in Research, Professional Practice and Education’. Bookings are now open at yorksj.ac.uk/BASS2020 and the submission of abstracts is invited (deadline for submission 17.00GMT on 1 November 2019). The conference programme is also available at yorksj.ac.uk/BASS2020 The Director of SpIRE ( is a Board member and Trustee of BASS, and the Chair of SpIRE will be a keynote speaker at the conference.
The Journal for the Study of Spirituality (JSS) will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary at the BASS Conference.
Below, the Editor of JSS and Vice-President of BASS, Dr Cheryl Hunt, speaks about the forthcoming conference.
In his Opening Address at the launch of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality
(BASS) in January 2011, the then President, John Swinton, asked:
Why is it that everyone talks about spirituality in such different terms? Why is it that everyone
seems to know what it is, yet no one seems to be able to offer a definitive description?
Sometimes it is perceived as the manifestation of love; sometimes it is the search for hope, meaning and purpose; for some people it is about religion and God; others clearly and self-
consciously want to exclude God and religion. How can we claim to have a coherent field of enquiry if those who are participating in the field appear to have no coherent understanding of
what the central concept is?
Part of the ‘problem’ of spirituality is that it straddles different cultures, academic disciplines
and professional contexts. Studies in and of the field draw on scientific and literary concepts, on
quantitative and qualitative data, and on objective measures as well as subjective experiences.
BASS came into being with the expressed intention of providing a forum where studies shaped
by the diverse approaches and priorities of different cultures, perspectives and professional
obligations might be brought together in the context of what Swinton referred to as ‘hospitable
conversation’ in both ‘physical and conceptual’ spaces.
The Sixth International BASS Conference, like its predecessors, will be specifically designed to
offer plenty of space for hospitable conversation, whether in plenary sessions following
keynote presentations, in smaller groups in the parallel sessions devoted to participants’ own
presentations, or simply in the social context of shared meals and refreshments or a stroll in the
grounds. The conference will be interdisciplinary and inter-professional, bringing together a
broad range of scholars and practitioners from around the world who have interests in the
theory and practice of spirituality. It will provide opportunity for conversations and syntheses
across international, academic and professional boundaries that sometimes pose their own
challenges to the development of a ‘joined-up’ field of spirituality studies.
The conference title reflects the three key elements in the study of spirituality that underpin
the work of BASS: Research, Education, Practice. Four internationally-renowned Keynote
Speakers will each highlight what they see as significant aspects of spirituality within their own
disciplinary/professional context, including particular challenges to, and opportunities for, the
development of research, professional practice and/or education in the field.
The conference venue, York St John University, has deliberately been chosen to enhance the
conversational aspects of the conference. It prides itself on being a small, friendly university
with a strong community spirit. The oldest higher education institution in the beautiful riverside
city of York, it has been at the forefront of teaching and education for over 175 years. The
University’s self-contained campus is just a short walk away from the city’s Roman walls,ancient cobbled streets and medieval buildings – and the iconic York Minster, a towering 13th-century Gothic cathedral.
There is a wide range of accommodation close to the university.However, early booking is highly recommended as York attracts many visitors, especially during the summer months.