2020 marks the first year that Minnesota’s 65+ population is larger than the 5-17 year-old population. Recognizing this demographic shift and its commitment to lifelong learning and older adults, the University of Minnesota joined the Global Network of Age-Friendly Universities on September 8, 2020. It is the first higher-ed institution in Minnesota to join the global network.
Convened by Dublin City University President Brian MacCraith, the Global Network established 10 principles that help universities meet the research and education needs of an aging society and ensure that older adults are actively engaged in a campus community. Launched by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in 2012, the 10 principles have been adopted by institutions in Ireland, the U.K., the U.S., Canada, and beyond. Participation in the Global Network gives the U of M access to resources and technical assistance to support local age-friendly initiatives.
“The University has a longstanding history of innovative programming for older adults as well as education and research in geriatrics and gerontology,” U of M President Joan Gabel wrote in her endorsement letter. “This network will build on this history as our communities continue to grow older and we explore new ways to engage older adults in our campus community.”
This effort is facilitated through the School of Public Health’s Center for Healthy Aging and Innovation (CHAI), with leadership by Rajean Paul Moone, PhD, LNHA, FGSA, Associate Director of Education with CHAI. The U of M Age-Friendly initiative will be overseen by a council of representatives from across the campus, including the Advanced Careers initiative, University of Minnesota Alumni Association, Extension, University of Minnesota Foundation, MN Northstar GWEP, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at U of M, and Retirees Association.
Guiding the network are value statements that include:
- We all benefit from intergenerational approaches and exchanges
- Lifelong learners bring experience and perspective that enrich education
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central pillars to all the work we do
- Ageism is a pervasive form of bigotry that must be challenged and eliminated
“Our world is rapidly changing and the University is working to seize opportunities to ensure older adults continue to be an integral part of our campus community and life,” says CHAI Associate Director for Education and U of M Age-Friendly facilitator Dr. Rajean Moone.
Information about programs for older adults will be made available to help Minnesotans learn about opportunities at the U of M.
The U of M recently announced two federally funded centers dedicated to the study of aging: The Public Health Center of Excellence in Dementia Caregiving, supported by the CDC and located at the School of Public Health and the Center on the Demography and Economics of Aging at the Life Course Center, funded by the National Institute on Aging.
More information about the initiative can be found on the Age-Friendly webpage.
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