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Heidelberg Lecture 2015 with Andreas Kruse

Mar 25, 2015

"Contemporary Images of Age and Ageing: Vulnerability, Strengths and Developmental Potentials" was the title of the Heidelberg Lecture 2015 held by Prof. Andreas Kruse. The event took place on February 24, 2015, in New Delhi. Organized by the Heidelberg Center South Asia, the talk opened the international workshop "New Approaches to Ageing in South Asia and Europe" of the Cluster's research project B19 "Ageing in a Transcultural Context". The following report by Suboor Bakht reviews the talk and the event.

Conference Report

Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andreas Kruse is full professor and director of the Institute of Gerontology at Heidelberg University. He has strongly contributed to research in the field of Active Ageing for more than 30 years and has been conferred numerous coveted awards and positions in Germany and internationally and has many significant publications to his credit in various international and peer-reviewed journals with many citations.

At the India International Centre, New Delhi, he delivered the 4th Heidelberg Lecture on 24th February, 2015, to a strong gathering of more than 400 students, researchers, scientists, faculty, professionals, Heidelberg Alumni, Cluster conference participants, personnel from international organisations, Indian government bodies, old age homes and NGOs. The audience comprised a mix from almost all universities in and around Delhi including the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Ambedkar University, South Asian University, Delhi Technical University, Indraprastha University, Amity University and Guru Gobind Singh University. Institutes and National Research Institutes of repute such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Indian Council of Social Science Research, IIT Delhi, Delhi School of Social Work, Institute of Economic Growth, corporations such as Max International, Ranbaxy, Compass, Agilent Technologies and Intel, international organisations such as WHO and UNDP, Indian governmental organisations such as the Department of Science and Technology and Indian Council of Social Science Research also participated in the event.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse

The lecture was significant as active ageing is a relevant topic in today’s world, especially in a country like India with a sizable proportion of elderly population and with very little research done in this field. Also, with the increase in life expectancy, the ageing population is becoming a crucial challenge for the years to come. Building an inclusive society and improving quality of life of elderly population could be the key strategy for active ageing. The lecture was truly unique as Prof. Kruse delivered it as a combination of scientific talk and a small concert of Mozart and Bach; he played on a Grand Piano and mesmerized the audience.

The evening was graced by presence of Prof. Beatrix Busse, Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Teaching at Heidelberg University, who gave the Welcome Note and shared information on opportunities at Heidelberg University, Prof. Axel Michaels, Director of the Cluster of the Excellence "Asia and Europe" at Heidelberg University, who introduced the speaker, Prof. Madelaine Herren-Oesch, Director of the Institute for European Global Studies in Basel, Prof. Christiane Brosius, Chair of Visual and Media Anthropology at Heidelberg University, Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch, Head Communications and Marketing at Heidelberg University, who presented the momento and Astrid Radunski, Counsellor at the German Embassy in India.

In his talk, Prof. Kruse shared his ideas, research work and possible solutions: Population ageing does not necessarily imply inevitable decreases in societies’ competitiveness or decreases in intergenerational solidarity. However, current demographic change contributes to an increasing societal (and also scientific) interest in possible contributions of older generations to development and cohesion of society. The respective question is approached from both an individual and a societal perspective, referring to actual and future resources and potentials of older people as well as to societal preconditions which have to be fulfilled for developing, expanding, and realizing potentials of older people. We elucidate a comprehensive understanding of old age considering increased vulnerability as well as specific strengths and developmental potentials as reflected e.g. in introversion, openness, and generativity. Moreover, we present evidence from different spheres of society for the hypothesis of a strong correlation between social images of old age and Prof. Busse delivering ageing which one-sidedly accentuate deficits and decline and a limited range of opportunities for older people to establish and maintain continuity and self-worth by engaging in meaningful roles, thereby realizing potentials to lead a life in self- and joint-responsibility to the benefit of both older people themselves and society as a whole. Post the lecture the presenter was posed with questions from the researchers, scientists, students and professionals.

The lecture was successful as it not only had a strong representation but has helped to establish Heidelberg Lecture Series as an institution in India. It has built further on the strong mark left by previous Heidelberg Lectures. It has resulted in several collaboration and exchange requests from other institutes, researchers and professionals in India who are involved directly and indirectly with topics related to ‘Active Ageing’. It has exposed outstanding domain expertise of researchers and scientists at Heidelberg and their possible engagement with India may usher new collaborations of fundamental and commercial importance. One could say that it was successful in creating a platform for possible ‘Indo-German’ dialogue and in identifying research collaboration and exchange areas between India and Germany. There is also a lot of industrial significance and potential for fruitful collaboration between Industry and Academia in this area – as was evident from the participation of corporates and their subsequent interest. For students, it was important as they not only got exposed to a level of research and opportunities at Heidelberg University but also to look at career perspectives in this field. Last but not the least, the event got wide media coverage, both print and electronic, which could help anticipate several tangible outputs in the time to come.

Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding

Additional Information

About the author

Suboor Bakht is a member of staff of the Heidelberg Center South Asia.

About the event

Organized by the Heidelberg Center South Asia, the Heidelberg Lecture 2015 opened the international workshop "New Approaches to Ageing in South Asia and Europe" of the Cluster's research project B19 "Ageing in a Transcultural Context".

Media coverage

Various media reported about the event, including The Higher Education Review, India Education Diary.com, The Pioneer, Mydigitalfc.com, and the Financial Chronicle.


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