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Ageing Societies: Change, Challenge and Chance Postgraduate Conference
December 4th 2009 Oxford Institute of Ageing and St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford
Professor Margaret Macmillan
Professor Sarah Harper
The ‘Ageing Societies: Change, Challenge and Chance’ Postgraduate Conference, sponsored generously by Annual Fund and Conferences and Speakers Fund of St. Antony’s College and Oxford Institute of Ageing, took place on 4th December 2009.
The conference was attended by more than 70 participants from 7 countries including UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic and Lithuania. Students came from more than 10 disciplines including Gerontology, Sociology, Social Policy, Anthropology, Demography, Politics, Health Sciences, Health Psychology, Education, Social Work and History. Students’ presentation topics were of an amazing variety, with discussions on geographic locations including Western Europe, UK, US, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Korea, South Africa, Belarus, Philippines, rural Malawi and rural Bangladesh.

Professor Margaret Macmillan, (left) Warden of St. Antony’s College and Professor Sarah Harper, (right) Director of Oxford Institute of Ageing, addressed the conference. Professor Macmillan expressed that as the most international graduate college at University of Oxford and specializing in Social Sciences with strong policy and real-life relevance, St. Antony’s was particularly happy to host the event. Professor Sarah Harper also welcomed the participants to the conference, and noted that the scale of the event signified the growth in students’ academic interest in ageing.

The keynote speech of the conference was given by Professor Sarah Harper, Director of Oxford Institute of Ageing. The title of the speech was ‘Global Ageing: Societal Challenges and the Capacity to Adapt’. The thought-provoking speech touched upon intergenerational transfers, responsibilities of individuals and governments in ageing societies and similarities and differences of ageing populations across the globe.

After the keynote speech, two parallel student presentation sessions ‘Ageing and Work Panel’ and ‘Ageing and Gender’ were held at Dahrendorf Room and Deakin Room, St. Antony’s College. In each panel, five student presenters spoke about their research projects in turn, and joined other speakers for questions and answers for half-an-hour. Presenters received feedback and suggestions for their research. This was facilitated by grouping presentations according to research themes.

After the first student panel, participants had lunch at the college dining hall which provided a chance for networking. Following lunch, another two parallel student presentation sessions ‘Ageing, Care and Health’ and ‘Ageing and Intergenerational Relations’ were held in the afternoon.

After the second student panel, the delegates were welcomed to Oxford Institute of Ageing at the new site on Banbury Road.  The expert panel discussion forum was chaired by Dr. George Leeson, Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of Oxford Institute of Ageing. The four distinguished speakers, including Mr. Paul Cann, Chief Executive, Age Concern Oxfordshire, Mr. Jonathan Herring, Fellow in Law, Exeter College, University of Oxford, Professor Paul Higgs, Professor of the Sociology of Ageing, University College London and Professor Chris Phillipson, Professor of Applied Social Studies and Social Gerontology, Keele University spoke on the challenges and chances that ageing populations bring. The panel discussed a range of issues including diversity among older people, legal protection for older people, a new ‘old age’, consumption, critical gerontology, rural and urban ageing, global ageing, the bridge between theory and practice and many others. Student participants were invited to join the debate in the second half of the forum and actively engaged.

Professor Sarah Harper concluded the conference and encouraged participants to stay in touch and further network and collaborate.

(Photos in this report taken by: Norainie Ahmad and Seung-min Park)

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