Debating Ageing: A Transdiciplinary Engagement Forum

Ageing is an irreversible physiological process that happens in diverse social, cultural and economic settings. How well we age is determined by a myriad of factors, ranging from biology, access to healthcare, financial resources, education and lifestyle to other cultural factors that include how a society perceives and evaluates old age. While much of 20th century culture was defined by a cult of youth, the reality of life in the 21st century is increasing longevity and an ageing population that requires considerable medical, financial, social and other resources. Adapting to retirement, losing loved ones and friends, loneliness, mental health issues, and serious medical problems (such as chronic illness, poor nutrition, and increasing disability), in addition to facing death, are some of the existential challenges that ageing adults face.

Further to this, the ongoing debate about retirement age, pension provisions and the “drain” of the ageing population on resources underlines the intergenerational dimension of old age. On the other hand, older citizens continue to make invaluable contributions to the common good by, for example, providing childcare, disseminating their knowledge and wisdom, working for charities or mentoring younger people.

Our public engagement series aims to examine ageing as a complex phenomenon that requires a transdisciplinary frame of analysis. We propose to adopt a constructive approach that analyses the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age. Lectures and workshops will involve academics from health sciences, social sciences, the humanities (including art history, literary disciplines, film studies, musicology, theology and history), medical humanities, psychology, and education while non-academic participants will include nurses and carers, NGOs, UCD in the Community and older adult community groups and people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds who are willing to reflect on their experience.


LECTURE 5: ‌The age of Titian: Venice's Oldest Old Master

This is the fifth event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age.

Dr Philip Cottrell, UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy

Date: 4 April 2019

Venue: National Gallery of Ireland

Time: 6.30pm

This is a free public lecture exploring the issue of working as an artist in old age in the context of Titian's late style.


LECTURE 4: ‌Expanding the Imaginarium of Ageing through Cultural Gerontology

This is the fourth event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age.

Professor Desmond O'Neill, consultant physician in geriatric and stroke medicine and Professor in Medical Gerontology, Tallaght University Hospital and Trinity College Dublin will talk on Cultural Gerontology.

Date: 31 January 2019

Venue: UCD Humanities Institute

Time: 5.30pm

Prof Desmond O’Neill is a geriatrician and stroke physician at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research centres on gerontology and the neurosciences, with a strong emphasis on the humanities. He has authored over 300 peer-reviewed papers and chapters, and is a co-founder and past-president of the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society, and currently the Chair of the Humanities and Arts Committee of the Gerontological Society of America and co-chair of Medical and Health Humanities at TCD. He is the Chair of the National Centre for Arts and Health an  has worked with a number of cultural agencies and institutions to develop the concepts of arts, ageing and health. He helped develop the first course for artists in health care in Ireland, has broadcast on Lyric FM (Ireland’s classical music station), and is an active contributor to national media. He was awarded the All-Ireland Inspirational Life Award in 2010 for advancing the cause of older people in Ireland.



LECTURE 3: ‌Healthy Ageing

Healthy Ageing is the third event in the Debating Ageing series at UCD examining the biological, medical, psychological, social and cultural factors that can facilitate positive experiences of old age. Prof. Dermot Power, Consultant Geriatrician at the Mater Hospital, will lead the event with a keynote lecture on the Biology of Ageing. The keynote will be followed by a panel discussion on Healthy Ageing.

The panel of speakers includes:

  • Prof. Dermot Power, Consultant Geriatrician, Mater Hospital

  • Dr Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, Consultant General Medicine, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)

  • Dr Deirdre O’Donnell, Lecturer in Health Systems, UCD, Co-founder Older People’s Empowerment Network.

  • Assoc. Prof. Clare Corish, Associate Professor in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Malnutrition in the Elderly (ManuEl) Knowledge Hub

  • Dr Caoilean Murphy, UCD Postdoctoral Research Fellow, NUTRIMAL Project

Event Details
George Moore Auditorium, O'Brien Centre for Science, UCD
5.30pm Lecture & Panel Discussion
6.30pm Reception following the event in the Atrium, O'Brien Centre for Science


LECTURE 2: Lifespan Extension

Lifespan Extension is the second lecture in the series and will look at the future and near term possibilities for extension of lifespan as well as the economic implications of a world in which lifespan might extend beyond 100 years. This will be an interesting discussion on the biological, social and economic aspects of longer lifespans.

The panel of speakers includes:

Dr Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer, SENS Research Foundation.

Emma Teeling, Professor of Biology, University College Dublin.

Liam Delaney, Professor of Economics, University College Dublin.

Date: 19 November 2018

Venue: Moore Auditorium, UCD O'Brien Centre for Science

Time: 6pm (tea and coffee from 5pm)


LECTURE 1: Debating the History of Ageing

Professor David Troyansky
Professor of History
Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center
The City University of New York

Date: Tuesday, 9 October 2018 @ 5.30pm

Venue: H.204, UCD Humanities Institute

David G. Troyansky is Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is author of Old Age in the Old Regime: Image and Experience in Eighteenth-Century France (Cornell University Press, 1989) and Aging in World History (Routledge, 2016) as well as numerous articles on the history of old age and aspects of French cultural history. He has co-edited three books on French history and Francophone culture, including Transnational Spaces and Identities in the Francophone World (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) and The French Revolution in Culture and Society (Greenwood Press, 1991). He is currently co-editing, with Tim Parkin of the University of Melbourne, a 6-volume Cultural History of Old Age for Bloomsbury Press.