Spirituality for Youth-Work: New Vocabulary, Concepts and Practices
This book addresses a systemic gap in existing studies on human services and youth work. While the notion of spirituality does make rare appearances in such literature, it is often vaguely defined and underdeveloped both as a concept and as a mode of practice. This ambiguity is symptomatic of the broader shift in the sociological context of Western and global societies that has been referred to variously as post-modern, late-modern and post-secular. From the perspective of the relationship between human development and the spiritual/theological, we live in a “time between times”. We have not yet worked out how to speak of “spirit”; nor how to include its meanings in positive youth intervention, and developments in our language for a public spiritual consciousness remain in a state of cultural flux. This book offers a coherent vocabulary and narrative from which to construct a more explicit and deliberate practice of spiritual care, education and professional identity for youth workers. It speaks directly to youth work practitioners, managers of youth services, those providing youth work education, and anyone with an interest in youth and spirituality research and practice.
Phil Daughtry, PhD, is Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Director of the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality at Tabor College of Higher Education, Australia, where he teaches in contemporary spirituality and spiritual formation. Over the previous twelve years, Phil has been active in promoting conversations about the relationships between spirituality and youth work in Australia, England, New Zealand and Singapore, and has published contributing chapters and articles on this topic. He was the primary initiator and facilitator of the Burning Conversations conference (2014) from which this book has emerged.
Stuart Devenish, PhD, is the Director of Postgraduate Studies of the School of Ministry Theology and Culture at Tabor College of Higher Education, Australia. He is the author of Knowing Otherwise (2001), Seeing and Believing (2012), and Ordinary Saints (2016), and joint editor for Religion and Spirituality (2010) and Beyond Well-Being (2012). He has a strong interest in supervising research in areas related to the spiritual life with particular reference to religious identity, the meaning of transformative spiritual and religious experience, and spiritual formation.
“The 12 chapters in this volume help us understand the relationship between young people and the spiritual by offering engaging and stimulating enquiry. Valuable, well-weighed lessons from experience are here shared with professionals involved in developing “emergent adults”. Often self-reflective and combining quality research supported by life histories, the content is academically grounded, but is presented in a warm, conversational style. Borne from primarily Australian contexts, the insights here transfer well internationally in considering youth work in usual and in some marginal circumstances.”
Professor of Spiritualty, the University of South Africa
“This book makes a significant contribution to the international literature on spirituality and youth work. The volume shows a strong commitment to the voices of young people, prompting a deeper engagement with young people’s spiritualities in their diverse contemporary contexts. By connecting these with the critically reflective experiences and narratives of professionals, the contributions offer a tangible sense of how professional practice can engage with spirituality in a range of settings to respond to young people more holistically. […] Researchers, students, and those working with young people will all find something of value in the drawing together of material across disciplines, including sociological and psychological perspectives. The volume offers important ways of reflecting on how a deeper engagement with spirituality supports our professional engagements with young people as human beings.”
Dr Andrew Orton
Lecturer in Community and Youth Work, Durham University, UK
“This volume confronts the sometimes difficult reality of working positively with youth in a relational manner in secular contexts, while taking seriously the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) which denoted spiritual development as a human right. Whereas many books about youth work seem to be survival guides for those whose work is an intrepid adventure, this volume poses the twin questions of ‘How can we flourish?’ and ‘How can facilitate those we work with to flourish?’ These are not just questions for those in youth work, but for all of us who work in the health and human service sectors. The wisdom found in this book is necessary, beneficial and a real blessing.”
Professor Beth Crisp
School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Australia
“In this important volume, readers are offered a conceptual framework that re-calibrates our social policy settings, the range of services it supports and the curriculum by which youth workers are trained needs to be informed by a more holistic view of the human condition and its potential. Daughtry and Devenish—and those authors who have contributed their chapters—are to be commended for pulling together a pool of rich resources that speak directly to policy framers, youth practitioners, managers of youth services and those providing education and training opportunities.”
Dr Ross Bensley
Acting CEO of Re-Engage Youth Services, Adelaide, South Australia.
“This deeply scholarly book brings to the reader a sophisticated and insightful range of chapters that examine in detail concepts related to spirituality and young people. To my surprise, the implications of this collection far exceed concerns related only to youth-work, but instead, in the breadth and depth of the topics, present insight into spirituality in a post-modern society and the fundamental desire for meaning that emerges within all humans. […] The authors are to be congratulated on their timely and evocative contributions.”
Dr Carol Irizarry
Associate Professor of Social Work, School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University, Australia.
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