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Theologische Fakultät

Fabian Winiger

Fabian Winiger, M.Sc., PhD.

  • Senior Research Fellow
KIR E 002, Kirchgasse 9, 8001 Zürich.

Research Interests

  • Religion and spirituality in global health
  • Spirituality and secularism in multilateral Organisations
  • Digitalisation and Spiritual Care


  • 2022- Spirituality and Health in the United Nations: Global Norms and Local Practices (Swiss National Science Foundation) More

  • 2020- UFSP Digital Religion(s)

    • Digitally-shaped Spiritual Care in Healthcare Chaplaincy (P11) More
    • MEEET:  The Media Existential Encounters and Evolving Technology Lab More
    • Digital Society Initiative Minor in "Digital Skills" More
  • 2020- World Health Organization Faith Network More
  • 2018-2020: The Integration of Spiritual Aspects into the WHO Health Policy since 1984. Historical Investigations in view of the Foundations of Interprofessional Spiritual Care (Swiss National Science Foundation) More

Curriculum Vitae

  • 2022- Senior Research Fellow, Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zürich.
  • 2018-2021 Postdoc, Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zürich.
  • 2018 Research Fellow, Yale Center for Cultural Sociology.
  • 2014-2018 Ph.D. Medical Anthropology, Hong Kong University
  • 2012-2013 M.Sc. Medical Anthropology, Oxford University.
  • 2009-2011 Bachelor in Sociology and Media & Communication with Honours, University of Canterbury (Christchurch, New Zealand)
  • 2007-2009 NZ Diploma in Business, CPIT (Christchurch, New Zealand)

Selected Publications

Peng-Keller, S., & Winiger, F. (2023). „In meiner innersten Kammer begegnet mir Gott jeden Tag.“ Ein Gespräch mit Hans van der Geest. Spiritual Care.

Haußmann, A., Peng-Keller, S., Neuhold, D., & Winiger, F. (2023). Digitalisierte Spiritual Care und Seelsorge. Spiritual Care.

Winiger, F. (2023). Spiritual Care im „Virtuellen Spital“: Ein Gespräch mit zwei Teleseelsorgern. Spiritual Care.

Winiger, F., & Neuhold, D. (2023). Zum Zwist mit dem Zeitgeist: Ein Rückblick mit zwei Pionieren der europäischen Teleseelsorge. Spiritual Care.

Winiger, F. (2023). The changing face of spiritual care: Current developments in telechaplaincy. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, 29(1), 114–131.

Winiger, F., & Neuhold, D. (2022). Spiritual Care on the go?: Ein Gespräch mit Achim Blackstein zur digitalen Teilhabe und -gabe im Alltag. Spiritual Care.

Peng-Keller, S., Winiger, F., & Rauch, R. (2022). The Spirit of Global Health: The World Health Organization and the “Spiritual Dimension” of Health, 1946-2021. Oxford University Press.

Winiger, F., & Peng-Keller, S. (2021). Religion and the World Health Organization: An evolving relationship. BMJ Global Health, 6(4), e004073.

Roser, T., Peng-Keller, S., Kammerer, T., Karle, I., Lammer, K., Frick, E., & Winiger, F. (25 March 2020). The Corona Pandemic as a Challenge for Spiritual Care—Advice for Pastors (joint statement, available in  English - German - French - Italian - Spanish)

Winiger, F. (2020). “More than an intensive care phenomenon”: Religious communities and the WHO Guidelines for Ebola and Covid-19: „Mehr als ein Phänomen der Intensivpflege“: Religiöse Gemeinschaften und die WHO Richtlinien für Ebola und Covid-19. Spiritual Care, 9(3), 245–255.

Winiger, F. (2020). The Chief Fallacy: A Commentary on Hostility to Hospitality: Zum Irrtum der ‚Hauptliebe‘: Ein Kommentar zu Hostility to Hospitality. Spiritual Care, 9(2), 109–113.

Iskra, A., Winiger, F., & Palmer, D. A. (2020). Remaking the Self: Spirituality, Civilization, the Chinese Quest to “Live Well” in the Reform-Era. In S. Feuchtwang (Ed.), Handbook on Religion in China (pp. 54–74). Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd,.

Winiger, F., & Neuhold, D. (2020). Michael J. Balboni/Tracy A. Balboni, Hostility to Hospitality. Spirituality and Professional Socialization in Medicine (review). Schweizerischen Zeitschrift Für Religions- Und Kulturgeschichte, 114.

Palmer, D. A., & Winiger, F. (2019). Neo-socialist governmentality: Managing freedom in the People’s Republic of China. Economy and Society, 48(4), 554–578.

Palmer, D. A., & Winiger, F. (2019). Secularization, Sacralization and Subject Formation in Modern China. In The Secular in South, East, and Southeast Asia (pp. 83–105). Palgrave Macmillan.

Winiger, F. (2019). Who Cares? Health, Religion, and “Spiritual Care” in the People’s Republic of China. In S. Peng-Keller & D. Neuhold (Eds.), Spiritual Care im globalisierten Gesundheitswesen: Historische Hintergründe und aktuelle Entwicklungen (pp. 251–276). Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Winiger, F. (2018). Qigong in Three Social Worlds: National Treasure, Social Signifier, or Breathing Exercise? In C. Brosnan, P. Vuolanto, & J.-A. B. Danell (Eds.), Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Knowledge Production and Social Transformation (pp. 85–110). Palgrave Macmillan.

Winiger, F. (2017). “When the spirit cannot feel the body”: Overcoming Cartesian mind-body dualism with qigong practice. Sciences and Techniques of Sports and Physical Activities (STAPS), 3, 113–142.

Knowledge Exchange

Conference organisation

2023 Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zurich: "Christian Healthcare Chaplaincy as Specialized Spiritual Care: Pathways and Models for the Future" (Co-Organisation working group, workshop and book project)
2023 UFSP Digital Religion(s)/Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zurich: "Digital Spiritual Care: Quo Vadis?" (JPG, 1002 KB) (Conference co-organisation)

Spiritual Care at UZH and Transforming Chaplaincy Initiative. "Spiritual Care for the 21st Century: An International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Telechaplaincy." (Conference organisation).


WHO & Religions for Peace. "Chaplaincy: Critical and changing roles in COVID-19". Global conference on strengthening national responses to health emergencies (Conference organisation and panel moderation).


World Council of Churches, Geneva. "The ‘Spiritual Dimension’ in Global Health" (Co-organiser and -chair, interdisciplinary roundtable).

Paper presentations and guest lectures

2023 UFSP Digital Religion(s)/Professorship for Spiritual Care, University of Zurich: "Digitalisierung und seelsorgliche Praxis im schweizerischen Gesundheitswesen: eine Bestandesaufnahme" (Conference presentation).
2023 13th biennial conference of the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture, Center for Religious Studies (CERES): "Chapel, Shepherd, Staff: No more? Rethinking Pastoral Care Metaphors in the Virtual Hospital" (Paper presentation).
2023 Wellcome Centre for the Cultures + Environments of Health, University of Exeter: "The “Gospel of Health”, Then and Now: Historical Remarks on the ‘Spiritual Dimension’ of Health at the World Health Organization" (Seminar presentation).

Institut für Sozialethik, Universität Zürich: "'Born in Dignity and Rights': Zur (christlichen) Herkunft des Würdebegriffs im UN-Menschenrechtsdiskurs" (Workshop presentation)


Spiritual Care at UZH and Transforming Chaplaincy Initiative. "A History of Telechaplaincy - Towards the Digital Turn in Spiritual Care" (Conference presentation).


Faculty of Theology, University of Geneve and European Academy on Religion and Society conference on Religious Engagement in Global Affairs. "Religion at the World Health Organization - From the ‘Spiritual Dimension’ to ‘Faith Engagement’" (Panel presentation)


Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Botswana and Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development, HU Berlin. "Religion and Global Health" (Guest lecture).

2022 World History Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (with Volga Research Medical Univ., State Academic Univ. for the Humanities and Synodal Commission of Bioethics of the ROC). "Of Covenants, Polarisers and Cosmopietists: Global Health and the Post-Secular Turn in the United Nations." (Guest Lecture).


Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development, HU Berlin. "Religion at the Temple of Health - The ‘Spiritual Dimension’ and the World Health Organization" (Keynote address).


Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association. “Healthism, Colonialism and Neoliberal 'Spirituality' in the WHO Discourse on Traditional Medicine” (Conference presentation).


Joint Research Council, Transforming Chaplaincy Initiative. "Buzzword or Way of the Future? On the Emergence of 'Telechaplaincy' in Three Major U.S. Healthcare Systems." (Paper presentation).


Evangelische Akademie zu Berlin. "Telechaplaincy: Forschungsergebnisse zu digitalen Formen seelsorglicher Spiritual Care." Fachgespräch zum Thema "Kann man zu existenziellen Fragen zoomen, skypen, chatten? Chancen und Herausforderungen von Online-Kommunikation" (Conference presentation).


Leeds Centre for Religion and Public Life conference on Religious Engagement and the COVID Response. “Spiritual Care and Digital Presence: On the Turn to Telechaplaincy During the Covid-19 Pandemic” (Conference presentation).


European Association of Science and Technology Studies. “Through Thick And Thin: Semantic Abstraction And Contextualisation In The World Health Organization's Discourse On 'Traditional Medicine’” (Conference presentation).


Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities. “WHO Guidelines for Ebola and Covid-19” (Guest lecture).


Third Swiss Conference on Spiritual Care. “Spiritual Care und die WHO Definition der Gesundheit” (Conference presentation).


Yale CCS Spring Conference. “A Century of Humiliation: Chinese Cultural Trauma after Mao” (Conference presentation).


National University of Singapore. "‘Neo-Socialist Governmentality’ and the Genealogy of Chinese Socialist Spiritual Civilization”. (Conference presentation, with David A. Palmer).

Digital media


Transforming Chaplaincy: "' A New Resource for Telechaplains" (Blog post)

2022 Connecting spiritual care providers, managers and researchers. (Bilingual information portal for Telechaplaincy practitioners).
2022 UFSP Digital Religion(s), University of Zürich. Der „Pfarrer aus Plastik“: Ein Gespräch über seelsorgliche Authentizität auf Instagram (Blog post).
2022 UFSP Digital Religion(s), University of Zürich. "Videoportrait Digital Spiritual Care" (Whiteboard animation).

UFSP Digital Religion(s), University of Zürich. "Telechaplaincy 2.0: Electronic Medical Records." (Whiteboard animation).


Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. "The WHO’s First Conference on Spiritual Care: What’s this Conference About, and Why is it Important?" (Blog post).


Digital Religion(s): Der Blog. “Digitalisierung seelsorglicher Spiritual Care: Telechaplaincy" (Interview).


COVID-19: SPIRITUAL CARE. Ressourcen zur seelsorglichen Arbeit. (Online resource repository for spiritual care providers during the Covid-19 pandemic.).

Weiterführende Informationen

Conference Programme Digitale Spiritual Care - Quo Vadis?

Mehr über Conference Programme Digitale Spiritual Care - Quo Vadis?

Digital technologies are increasingly part of work organizations: they are increasingly used to improve the treatment of patients, to shorten the length of stay in hospital, and to ensure medical care and interdisciplinary support after discharge. Last but not least, digitization is also changing the forms of communication between those receiving pastoral care, who are increasingly looking for meaningful offers on mobile devices.

This event will be held on site and via livestream.

Winiger, F. (2022). The Changing Face of Spiritual Care: Current Developments in Telechaplaincy. Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy0(0), 1–18. 

Connecting spiritual care providers, managers and researchers.

Peng-Keller, S., Winiger, F., & Rauch, R. (2022). The Spirit of Global Health: The World Health Organization and the “Spiritual Dimension” of Health, 1946-2021. Oxford University Press.