Our conference theme

Our conference theme of Liberty, Legacy, Leadership seeks to address some of the most pressing questions facing chaplaincies in these uncertain times.

statue of justice (Iustitia)

The theme for IACHE's sixth global conference is Liberty, Legacy, Leadership — but what exactly does this mean?

Explore the three key words that comprise our conference theme to gain greater understanding of what IACHE 2020 is about.


Chaplaincy is an agent for liberation in higher education. 

During times of great political and social turmoil, the need for greater egalitarian principles inevitably rise to the forefront in many arenas. This is evidenced by the challenges we face as chaplains in higher education. 

The word 'liberty' allows for an in-depth exploration of several key topics including:

  • Intolerance towards religion
  • How tolerance of religion can be achieved and maintained
  • The importance of religious inclusion in higher education communities

Exploring the notion of liberty and understanding how to open up routes for greater religious liberation and inclusion is more pressing for present-day chaplains than ever.


The IACHE 2020 global conference will, for the first time, take place in a nation that operated a colonial empire. As we build on the honour and respect shown to indigenous communities at our fifth global conference in Bendigo, Australia, we must here speak of the legacy of Britain in the pressing context of Britain and Ireland in Europe.

Two key-note speakers will address Brexit, society and religion. Three more of our speakers are sociologists of religion, critiquing the place of religion or belief in higher education.

Additionally, the legacy of chaplaincy has all-too-regularly sat within a Christian frame, even where inter-religious work has begun and representatives of diverse religion and belief traditions have collaborated. Addressing that legacy, valuing it, and yet also noting where that leads to inequality within difference, will help build a more global conference.


Chaplaincy has a particular role in supporting leaders in the university, helping to nurture healthy styles of leadership among the global communities’ next generations via the student communities we serve.

However, the word ‘leadership’ is at times disliked. Models within religion often starkly contrast with the styles that leaders display in different political arenas and it is important to consider what kind of leadership chaplaincy can offer, as a grass roots and radical movement within higher education.

The inclusion of leadership as part of the conference theme allows us to consider the role of chaplaincy in fostering tolerance and holistic well-being within universities.

We hope that this and the other two words comprising the conference theme can excite and inspire delegates at the 2020 conference.

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.