Interdisciplinary Aspects of Healthy Aging

Course content

General introduction to the course

Recent years have seen increasing interest in understanding healthy aging, the ability of the individual to maintain sufficient physical, mental and social energy to live active and meaningful lives. The course, offered by the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen, on behalf of the IARU network, will focus on exploring the aging phenomena through an interdisciplinary lens with a special focus on the concept of energy, a key component of healthy aging. Energy relates to processes at the cellular as well as the individual level and has not only physical but also important psychological and social dimensions which affect every facet of life. The course will take a starting point in the newly published book, Growing Older Without Feeling Old: On Vitality and Ageing by Professor Rudi Westendorp.

 

Objectives & Course Format

The objective of this course is to gain interdisciplinary knowledge and research experience in the field of aging to better understand how people can live more energetic lives and enjoy a robust older age. The following sub objectives will be achieved over three weeks in July 2018.

Week one: The main objective in week one is to provide knowledge on the interdisciplinary nature of the aging phenotype and how to evaluate the strengths and limitations of such research. Each CEHA theme will be allotted three lecture hours. The first lecture should give a bird’s eye view of how aging and specifically the concept of energy are conceptualized and worked with in the theme. Two additional lecture hours should be used to delve deeper into disciplinary examples of research conducted in the specific theme, while keeping the interdisciplinary nature of aging research in mind. This could include for example, reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of research within an individual discipline and how said research could benefit from interdisciplinary endeavors.  The remainder of week one will be used on student presentations on aging in their own discipline/country taking a starting point in the book Growing Older Without Feeling Old: On Vitality and Ageing.

Week two: The objectives of week two are to bring the students closer to the scientific research process and to give the students the opportunity to design an interdisciplinary research project. In the mornings, the students will carry out hands on research projects in small groups under the supervision of researchers representing CEHA’s three themes. These projects should span the disciplines that comprise CEHA, and thus represent different scientific methods from: laboratory work, to data analysis and qualitative research. All these projects should work with the concept of energy. During the afternoons the students will be grouped in interdisciplinary groups, supervised by top aging researchers, Rudi Westendorp, George Leeson (Oxford Institute of Population Ageing) and Thomas Kirkwood(Newcastle University), who will assist the students in designing an interdisciplinary research project, based on their disciplinary experiences in the hands on morning sessions, the lectures in the first week and the relevant literature. 

Week three: The objective in week 3 is to assist the students in exploring how interdisciplinary research projects are defined and evaluated. Within the interdisciplinary student groups, students will write a grant proposal which will be presented and defended in a mock grant trial at the end of the third week. Individual written reports based on the grant proposals will be submitted for evaluation on a pass/fail basis at the end of the course.

 

Please see a more thorough description at: http://healthyaging.ku.dk/for_students/iaru_summerschool/

Learning outcome

After the course, the participants will gain:

Knowledge

  • On aging as a complex phenotype that necessitates research integrating concepts from the humanities, social sciences, epidemiology, neurology, physiology and molecular biology.
  • On defining the necessary methods that can be used to conduct aging research.
  • On the principles for carrying out interdisciplinary aging research.

 

Skills

  • To evaluate and discuss the essential concepts of aging from a interdisciplinary perspective.
  • To critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of aging research presented in the course.
  • To discuss and evaluate research methods presented.
  • To conduct simple experiments, statistical analyses or qualitative analysis under supervision.
  • To synthesize and present current knowledge and practical experiences into a research proposal
  • To transform a research proposal into a grant application.

 

Competences

  • To independently adapt to a new environment and take responsibility for profession development.
  • To collaborate and effectively communicated with peers from different disciplines
  • To critically evaluate and acquire new knowledge and to reflect on how this can be incorporated into other contexts.
  • To evaluate presentations on research proposals of peers.

The teaching methods in this course include: lectures, close supervision in practical projects and interdisciplinary groups, and group discussions and presentations.

The course also includes two excursions and two dinners, as part of the social program.

Westendorp, Rudi (2015): Growing Older Without Feeling Old: On Vitality and Ageing, Scribe Publications.

Additionally, a number of research articles which vary from year to year, depending on the researchers contributing to the lectures.

 

Students who have obtained a bachelor degree from any discipline, have interests in aging research, and have good English skills are welcome to apply for this course.

Bachelor students at their 3rd or 4th year are welcome to apply.

Completed BSc degree

Bachelor students in their 3rd or 4th year are welcome to apply.

Oral
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
ECTS
5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Course participation
Written examination
- Active participation (80 % attendance) in the course incl. an oral group presentation (defense of the research proposal) and critical evaluation of presentations of peers.
- Written grant application, handed in individually.

Active participation in the research projects, the interdisciplinary work and the oral presentation is a prerequisite for writing the report.
Aid
All aids allowed
Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Knowledge:

  • On aging as a complex phenotype that necessitates research integrating concepts from the humanities, social sciences, epidemiology, neurology, physiology and molecular biology.
  • On defining the necessary methods that can be used to conduct aging research.
  • On the principles for carrying out interdisciplinary aging research.

 

Skills:

  • To evaluate and discuss the essential concepts of aging from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • To critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of aging research presented in the examination.
  • To discuss and evaluate research methods presented.
  • To synthesize and present current knowledge and practical experiences into a research proposal
  • To transform a research proposal into a grant application.

 

Competences:

  • To collaborate and effectively communicated with peers from different disciplines
  • To critically evaluate and acquire new knowledge and to reflect on how this can be incorporated into other contexts.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 32
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Class Seminar
  • 7
  • Exam
  • 29
  • English
  • 138