Vancouver School of Theology

Forming thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders for the church in the 21st century


Call for Papers

Call for Papers

Spiritual Perspectives on Death and Dying

A multi-religious, multi-disciplinary academic conference

May 22-24, 2018
Inter-religious Studies Centre, Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC, Canada


Possible Paper Topics

Over the last century, medical care has increasingly provided a key cultural framework for understanding death and dying. Technological innovation has prolonged life, but also hidden the reality and inevitability of death. In the process, wisdom about death and dying transmitted through spiritual traditions has been pushed to the margins. More recently, there have been calls to recover that wisdom, teach it widely, and understand its application to contemporary life. At this conference, we will respond to that call.

Examples of topics include, but are not limited to: Spiritual care for palliative patients and their families; evolving memorial customs and wishes; death scenes in sacred or popular literature and film; responses to a cultural denial of death; temporality and death; spiritual preparation for death; ethics of medically assisted death and the right to die; interpretive studies of customs, traditions, or sacred scriptures around death and dying.

Conference Highlights

Keynote workshop with David Kuhl, M.D., Ph.D., author of What Dying People Want: Lessons for Living from People Who Are Dying; Multi-faith panel discussion of end-of-life traditions; Music for passing, grieving, and lamenting; Scholarly paper sessions.

Paper Preparation Guidelines

Initial abstracts outlining the context and argument of the paper should be 150-200 words. Completed papers should be approximately 3,000 words and grounded in a theological, historical, or sociological perspective. Papers may introduce a particular religious or atheistic tradition, enabling conference goers to learn about multiple traditions as they explore the conference theme. Papers should be clearly written, accessible to those outside the author’s discipline and religious tradition. Conference sessions will be of varied formats, and oral presentations may be shorter than 25 minutes. Plans for publishing a volume based on conference papers are in process.

Submission and Notification Schedule

Abstracts due February 1, 2018 to Please include a 50-word bio and phone/email/postal contact information. We will notify presenters of acceptance no later than February 10. Completed papers due by May 1.

Graduate Student Essay Contest

Accepted papers by graduate students will automatically be entered into an essay contest. If you are a graduate student, please note that on the cover page of your completed paper.

Registration opens February 15

The $150 fee/$75 for students includes continental breakfast and lunch each day. Limited on-campus accommodations at Carey Centre are available at a rate of $99 per day at Carey Centre; information will be posted along with a registration form.


Contact Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan Kaplan and team at or visit our website at


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