GSA Issues Toolkit, Seed Grants to Promote Age Inclusivity Across Campuses

For Immediate Release
December 10, 2020

Contact: Todd Kluss
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Tools for Advancing Age Inclusivity in Higher Education” is a new resource produced by The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and its educational section, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education, with support from AARP.

Advancing age inclusivity can occur at different levels and junctures within an institution — for example, a course or academic program, within a specific college, or across an entire campus. The toolkit can be used by faculty, students, administrators, and other campus leaders. They may be adapted to meet an institution’s approach to making the case, building relationships, addressing ageism, crafting new efforts, and conducting assessments.

This suite of tools can be used as a foundation for institutions looking to be more age inclusive in these ways as well as for those interested in becoming members of the Age-Friendly University (AFU) Global Network.

“The toolkit came together through the work of colleagues committed to the age-friendly vision and its possibilities, and the contributions of the growing number of AFU partners who share this vision and have been exploring ways to expand age inclusivity on their campuses,” said Joann Montepare, PhD, FGSA, FAGHE, of Lasell University, who chaired the workgroup that oversaw content development for the new toolkit.

As the toolkit indicates, shifting age demographics are reshaping our social structures with far implications for higher education and age-diverse students with new educational needs. Aging populations are creating career opportunities for which higher education must prepare students as future professionals, and many older learners are looking to higher education to meet their professional and personal needs.

Moreover, programs for age-diverse learners can benefit institutions by helping to offset the consequences of the shrinking enrollment of younger learners. There also are many ways higher education can shape teaching and learning environments that disrupt ageist beliefs and biases in constructive ways and promote intergenerational solidarity.

“AARP is excited to support new ideas and resources, such as the toolkit and seed grants, to help colleges and universities expand their age-inclusive strategies,” said Kamili Wilson, vice president of enterprise initiatives at AARP. “The rapid growth and economic power of older adults offer new opportunities for innovation, employment and education for people of all ages.”

Recognizing that not all institutions may be ready to commit to being an AFU partner but are ready to be more age-inclusive, or that some institutions need additional support to join the AFU network, GSA recently awarded four seed grants of $2,500 each to support efforts to incorporate age-inclusive principles on campus. This funding also is provided through support from AARP.

The following institutions were awarded for the following projects:

  • Eastern Michigan University: The Age-Friendly University Faculty Affiliate Fellow Program, which will consist of three one-hour virtual training modules aimed at faculty and instructional staff on how to incorporate and apply AFU principles in the classroom and on campus (Primary faculty: Cassandra Barragan, PhD, MSW, director, Aging Studies Program)
  • University of California, Berkeley: The UC Berkeley Emeriti Academy Virtual Gathering and Poster Session, a virtual gathering and poster session with students and emeriti in Spring 2021. (Primary faculty: Cary Sweeney, MSG, director, UC Berkeley Retirement Center)
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha: Imagining an Age Friendly University of Nebraska at Omaha: Content, Colleagues, and Conversation, which will to improve aging research and education within the NU system, and to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations. (Primary faculty: Julie Blaskewicz Boron, PhD, Leo Missinne Associate Professor of Gerontology and chair, doctoral program; and Lyn Holley, PhD, Dr. Chuck Powell Professor of Gerontology)
  • University of Utah: Have you heard of HB 60? Promoting Lifelong Learning for Older Adults through Higher Education, which will promote awareness of HB60 to enhance university enrollment and increase engagement with community stakeholders. (Primary faculty: Katarina Friberg Felsted, PhD, associate professor, Gerontology Interdisciplinary Program, College of Nursing)


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.

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