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‘New Perspectives on the Study of Late Life’: First International Summer School, Keele University
18 – 23 July, 2010
We held our first international gerontology summer school at Keele University in July. The summer school, entitled ‘New Perspectives on the study of late life’ was hosted by members of the Centre for Social Gerontology and organised by the Active Ageing initiative at Keele. The programme was aimed at postgraduate and doctoral students as well as practitioners and policy makers in the field of ageing, and was intended to provide opportunities for participants to explore in-depth, current trends in ageing research on a number of key themes:

  • Ageing and theory
  • Methodological issues and ageing research
  • Critical issues in social policy
  • Practice and older people
  • Family life and ageing 

Each day was planned around a core theme and comprised a mix of lectures, seminars and optional workshops. Presentations from members of the Centre for Social Gerontology focused on current research, such as the New Dynamics of Ageing research ‘Ages and Stages’ presented by David Amigoni. Bernadette Bartlam presented on the PREDICT research which addressed the involvement of older people in clinical trials and Dana Rosenberg presented her research on non-heterosexual ageing. The Centre was also able to showcase recent publications and the ‘Family Life and Ageing’ strand was led by Chris Phillipson and Pat Chambers. Optional workshops explored methods in ageing research and provided students with an opportunity to get involved in the practicalities of doing research including participatory action research (with Friederike Ziegler), grounded theory (with Mo Ray), survey research (with Julius Simm) and biographical research (with Pat Chambers).

The summer school was delighted to welcome a number of guest speakers from Europe, North America and Australia who presented on topics including research methods, current research and ageing policies and practice. Ed Rosenberg (Appalachia State University) and Jim Ogg (CNAV) contributed to the methodological issues strand with lectures on evaluation research for programmes and services for older people and cross national ageing research. Joan Stewart from Monash University, Australia, contributed to the ageing and theory strand with a presentation on her research examining the role of the shop and its significance for well being amongst older people. Allan Hatton Yeo from Beth Johnson examined some of the issues associated with engaging older communities. The final day focused on ageing policy and Tom Scharf from the University of Galway explored the impact of gerontological research on evolving ageing policies and practice.

Our open lecture ‘The Global Ageing Century: Challenges and Opportunities’ was given by Mark Gorman, Director of Age International and reviewed demographic, health and socio-economic factors and key priorities for world ageing.

The workshop was attended by 26 participants from Europe, North America and Australia. Participants represented a diverse range of interests and included doctoral and pre-doctoral students, postgraduate students, policy makers, research officers and experienced practitioners. Their enthusiasm, energy and commitment helped to make the summer school a great success. Participants attended almost all of the sessions – including optional workshops and demonstrated an equal level of enthusiasm for partaking of the social programme (including the summer school dinner and a theatre trip) as well as continuing their networking and gerontological discussions late into the night at the Sneyd Arms Public House.

Evaluations for the summer school were very positive and we believe that the event provided a rich and unique learning opportunity for participants. Participants particularly appreciated the breadth and range of the programme, effective organisation and the size of the group. Of course, there were things that we could have done better and feedback suggested that the programme was at times a little too packed. We will also in future summer schools, give dedicated space to issues of policy and practice developments.

The summer school is an accredited course with the University and students who attend the whole programme and successfully undertake an associated assignment can achieve 20 CAT points at level five.

The next summer school at Keele is scheduled to take place 10 – 15 July, 2011and information about the programme will be available on the Keele website (www.keele.ac.uk/activeageing) from March 2011.

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