Kick-starting International Academic Exchange in Gerontology – National Chung Cheng University Promotes the Application of a Gerontology Database
In order to promote lifelong learning in Taiwan and to be in line with current international research trends in gerontology, the National Chung Cheng University (CCU) Center for Innovative Research on Aging Society (CIRAS) hosted the "Workshop on Advanced Gerontology Research and Talent Development" and the "Senior Lifelong Learning and Gerontechnology International Conference" over three consecutive days. Internationally recognized scholars and practitioners from Finland, the UK, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore were invited to discuss issues in gerontology with local scholars and professionals, in the hope that the international academic exchange will lead to the development of solutions for Taiwan's super-aged society.
First up was the "Workshop on Advanced Gerontology Research and Talent Development," which focused on issues such as interdisciplinary integration in gerontology research and the application of databases. Professor Taina Rantanen from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, was specially invited to present a lecture, while local scholars Tsung-Ren Huang and Yuan-Chih Fu shared their research experiences on database establishment. Many professors from various fields also participated in the workshop and shared strategies for connecting gerontology research and education, and for developing interdisciplinary modules, with the hope of applying such skills to nurture professionals and to enhance students' capabilities.
As Taiwan will become a super-aged society by 2025, it is crucial to seek fundamental solutions from an educational perspective to address the incessant problems associated with aging societies. For many years, CCU has not only emphasized the integrated development of humanities/social sciences and science and technology, but has also taken proactive measures to connect with local features, as well as encouraging students to be aware of their surroundings and apply their acquired knowledge to solve social issues. As CCU Vice President Feng-ming Hao has stated, "The issue of gerontological care is not just a slogan, but is actually closely associated with our future." It is hoped that the gerontology scholars and practitioners were able to conduct in-depth discussions on the current state and future of gerontology throughout the workshop, in addition to working together to develop effective solutions for relevant issues.
At present, gerontology issues in Taiwan have mainly emphasized medical care. However, even as statistics show that the number of elderly requiring assistance will have risen to 600,000 by 2025, that number will account for only 13% of the elderly population, while there will be 4 million elderly people who are relatively healthy and not in need of long-term care. In light of these considerations, Prof. Ding-Yu Jiang of the Department of Psychology drew from the advanced perspectives of gerontology and provided the elderly who are relatively healthy with innovative products and services that they need, so as to allow them to continue contributing to society and increase their self-value.
CCU Vice President Feng-ming Hao expressed the view that university curricula should be designed such that they are in line with upcoming trends in the gerontology market, thereby assisting students to understand the lives, psychological development, and social and interpersonal requirements of the elderly. The development of students' skills in marketing, program design, product design, user experience, and startup business planning has also motivated the younger generation to participate in the development and co-creation of gerontological services.
In continuation of the important aspects of gerontology and education, CIRAS collaborated with the National Museum of Natural Science to host the "Senior Lifelong Learning and Gerontechnology International Conference," during which in-depth discussions were carried out on issues such as innovative solutions for lifelong learning among the elderly, museums as a learning space for the elderly, gerontechnology, the participation of aging societies in human resources development, the information rights of the elderly, elderly-friendly environments and their universal design, and the development of the elderly care industry.
Furthermore, an exhibition guided by elders aged above 65 years was held concurrently with the conference, offering visitors' a glimpse of the infinite possibilities of post-retirement life. Interdisciplinary discussions on the interpersonal relationships of the elderly, their basic needs, and their employment system were conducted while integrating fashion, time banking, assistive devices, the Long-Term Care 2.0 plan, and other novel topics. This allowed the visitors to gain insights into the current state and challenges of elderly life, as well as the many ways through which we can grow old.