VCU is committed to creating an age-inclusive environment in order to change the narrative about aging through education, advocacy, research, and policy across the lifespan. We strive to promote a culture of age inclusion and appreciation among learners, alumni, faculty, staff and the community. Our goal is to prompt vibrant, holistic, intergenerational communities on our VCU campuses, health system and the larger community.
In recognition of its commitment to creating an age-inclusive environment, VCU was recently welcomed into the Age-Friendly University (AFU) Global Network. You can read more about this designation in this VCU News article from July, 2021.
In creating an Age-friendly University, VCU commits to cultivating a more age-inclusive environment where adults across the lifespace feel welcome, included, and a sense of belonging. As a university, we strive to:
VCU has identified many programs, initiatives and activities in support of creating an age-inclusive environment; a small selection of these are highlighted on this site. For more information or to get involved in VCU’s Age-friendly University Initiative, please contact Tracey Gendron, MS, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Gerontology.
|Tracey Gendron, MS, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Gerontology [View Image]|
As a member of the AFU Global Network, VCU is committed to following the 10 guiding principles originally created by Dublin City University in Ireland:
As we outline the ways that VCU embraces the meaning and criteria of embodying an age-inclusive university, we feel that it is our responsibility to model essential anti-ageist language in our effort to promote an age-inclusive campus environment and workplace.
In principle, the term “age-friendly” describes an environment that is inclusive of people of all ages. In practice, using the term “age-friendly” singles out older people by characterizing them as different and in need of special accommodations. Universities and communities that are age-inclusive are good for people of all ages. An all-age-friendly, or age-inclusive, campus describes an environment that is openly, thoughtfully and purposefully developing policies, procedures and practices that are inclusive of all people of all ages and abilities.
Actively creating an age-inclusive environment also requires us to closely examine the appropriate use of the term “aging population.” When we say “aging population” to describe people that are older we inadvertently contribute to the narrative that aging is about others. We are all aging, therefore, it is important to use language that accurately reflects and portrays that aging is about all of us.
The AFU Global Network led by Dublin City University (DCU) is committed to working to promote and support an inclusive approach to healthy and active aging. Since commencing in 2012, DCU developed Ten Principles of an Age-Friendly University which set out a framework for institutions of higher education to embrace age-inclusive practices. By informing students and challenging ageism, network members focus on innovation to address specific issues affecting older adults, offer learning opportunities for social and cultural interactions, and programmes in education, health, and technology for people across the generations to promote a greater, more connected and productive quality of life to support positive and active ageing.
Scores of institutions have joined the AFU Global Network since 2012; you can see the complete list by clicking here. For guidance on advancing age inclusivity in higher education, consult this guide from the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.