Interdisciplinarity is a hallmark of Trent University’s approach to scholarship, and so it is with the members of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society (TCAS).
Dr. Sally Chivers, director of TCAS, is the Trent lead on a large scale, seven-year, multi-site project called Imagining Age-friendly “Communities within Communities:” International Promising Practices. The goal of the project is to enhance the effectiveness of age-friendly practices in light of demographic shifts associated with both population aging and diversity. The investigators ask: how can age-friendliness support conditions in which all senior citizens not only maintain healthy active lives but also participate and create meaning in later life? The age-friendly strategy operates mostly at the city-community level with a one-size-fits-all approach. Their attention to "communities within communities" across twelve cities in Canada and around the world guides them to account for differences.
Prof. Chivers’ role within the project is to look specifically at the philosophical, cultural and gendered approaches to aging that may be most promising for individuals, families and the spectrum of careers across communities. With $2.5 million in funding support from SSHRC, Dr. Chivers says, “this level of commitment from the federal government creates projects that could not happen otherwise. Scholars are brought together across multiple divides – discipline, geography, gender, point of view, career stage – to create something that just would not exist in our individual disciplines.”
By incorporating ethnographic, survey, policy network, social work, cultural studies and arts-based methods in communities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway and Taiwan, the ultimate goal of the “communities within communities” partnership is to transform fears about an aging population into conversations and practices that address both the complexities and possibilities inherent in a world that welcomes the meaning that old age brings to life.