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Age-Friendly Universities

The Age-Friendly University Initiative began at the Dublin City University in Ireland where Professor Brian MacCraith recruited an interdisciplinary working group to establish a set of ten principles that could be used to define an “Age-Friendly University”. The movement has caught on around the world, and there are now partner universities in Ireland, the UK, Canada and the USA, all working towards an international effort to promote the role that higher education can play in improving quality of life and meeting the challenges and needs of our aging population. Many host universities for Osher Institutes have succeeding in receiving this status, with Florida State University (FSU) being the most recent in the US to receive that designation and also holding the honor of being the first Southern university to obtain the status.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is one of the activities that contribute to FSU’s standing as an Age-Friendly University.

The Ten Principles for an Age-Friendly University Include:

  • To encourage the participation of older adults in all the core activities of the university, including educational and research programs.
  • To promote personal and career development in the second half of life and to support those who wish to pursue “second careers”.
  • To recognize the range of educational needs of older adults (from those who were early school-leavers through to those who wish to pursue Master’s or PhD qualifications).
  • To promote intergenerational learning to facilitate the reciprocal sharing of expertise between learners of all ages.
  • To widen access to online educational opportunities for older adults to ensure a diversity of routes to participation.
  • To ensure that the university’s research agenda is informed by the needs of an aging society and to promote public discourse on how higher education can better respond to the varied interests and needs of older adults.
  • To increase the understanding of students of the longevity dividend and the increasing complexity and richness that aging brings to our society.
  • To enhance access for older adults to the university’s range of health and wellness programs and its arts and cultural activities.
  • To engage actively with the university’s own retired community.
  • To ensure regular dialogue with organizations representing the interests of the aging population.

With their focus on education for older adults, Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes play a large role in fulfilling the mission and intent of the Age-Friendly University designation. As noted by Anne Barrett, the director of the Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy at FSU, “I’m so pleased that FSU has been designated an Age-Friendly University, it’s one of the many small steps toward an age-friendly world.”

Resources:

Age Friendly Principles

Florida State University News Article

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