Building the Case for Age-Inclusivity in Higher Education

On September 9, I had the honor of representing GSA at a preconference workshop panel titled “New Normal for Higher Education: Understanding and Embracing an Aging Society,” which was part of Drexel University’s Annual Assessment Conference.

I applaud the Drexel community for embracing this increasingly important topic. The program introduced participants to national trends and best practices in creating an age-diverse and age-inclusive campus that will prepare graduates for success in the 21st century. I was joined by GSA members Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, MSW, FGSA, Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, FGSA, FAAN, and Rose Ann DiMaria-Ghalili, PhD, RN, FASPEN, FAAN, FGSA.

GSA’s educational section, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), has been involved in this topic area for some time, serving as a champion for the Age-Friendly University Global Network. Our collection of resources is growing, and now includes an e-newsletter titled Advancing Age Inclusivity in Higher Education. A pilot issue was sent to all members last month and the first full issue was sent on September 21. And later this year AGHE will release a new AFU Toolkit to support universities and colleges interested in becoming part of the network. The newsletter and toolkit are being supported through a grant from AARP.

GSA also has an active workgroup devoted to fostering development of age-inclusive campuses, and all members are invited to join our AFU Interest Group.

When considering the future of higher education, GSA (through AGHE) will continue to advocate for a more contemporary, age-integrated approach, one that provides older adults with broader and more direct access to educational opportunities.