Symposium on 'Ageing and Values' at NUI Galway

Monday, 16 October 2006

16 October 2006: An international conference at NUI Galway is to examine the meanings people attach to their lives as they grow older, including religious and spiritual values, and the ways in which society values – or fails to value - people as they age. The conference 'Values and Norms in Ageing', 20-22 October, has been organised by Dr. Ricca Edmondson, of the Department of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway, and Hans-Joachim von Kondratowitz at the German Centre for Gerontology in Berlin.

The conference will also address the question of wisdom, which was traditionally expected of older people in times gone by. Reviving and appreciating the idea of wisdom, which provides the individual with a set of critical and constructive skills based on experience, could help transform the role of older people in society – encouraging society to take seriously what people learn from life and to put it to good use. Speakers will also discuss the differing welfare-state provisions across Europe and how they might reflect prejudices about the contributions older people make to society.

Director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway, Professor Eamon O'Shea, commented, "A crucial aspect of our lives which is often neglected is the part played by values. Huge demographic changes are ahead, in Ireland we can expect one in four people will be over the age of 65 by 2050, compared to the current figure of around one in ten. With such a growing proportion of older people, we urgently need to know more about the values they have and how we can use the wisdom of older people to transform economic, social and cultural life".

Main speakers and topics of 'Values and Norms in Ageing' include:

Prof. Peter Coleman, University of Southampton, UK Faithful unto death? Late-life questions about religious belief

Prof. Michele Dillon from the University of New Hampshire; US Religion, spirituality and positive ageing

Prof. Haim Hazan, University of Tel Aviv, Israel Beyond Dialogue - Entering the Fourth Space in Old Age

Prof. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr, University of Leipzig, Germany Atheist convictions or keeping things open ?

The event is the 36th international symposium of the European Behavioural and Social Science Research Section of the IAG (International Association of Gerontology), which is being held in co-operation with the Research Network on Ageing in Europe of the ESA (European Sociological Association) and the Galway Wisdom Project.

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