Living with an Ageing Society: Interdisciplinary workshop in Liverpool

How could we use cross-disciplinary approaches that could contribute and combine to provide solutions to the challenges of an ageing society and provoke discussion to create new questions and ideas to research?


After the first workshop in Osaka we needed to change the make-up of the teams and in some cases refine the projects. In Osaka there had been some difficulties regarding the two different styles of academic argument that the two cultures practised and a brief description of each was offered to the participants. It was also clear that the expectations of the workshop differed with Japanese colleagues more comfortable concentrating on formal academic lectures and the answering of individual questions. This resulted in participants being very well briefed with a widespread knowledge of ageing issues but allowed less time for the teams to fully explore the ideas that they were forming. A further challenge was to continue to explore the dynamics of the teams and their ability to transcend cultural, disciplinary and language barriers. Discussions between colleagues in Osaka and, subsequently, by email and skype, allowed the aims and objectives of the Liverpool workshop to be shared and targeted toward those perceived difficulties. Indeed, it was agreed in Osaka that a greater emphasis on professional development would stretch and equip the participants better for their careers and their projects. This aspect of the workshop was the most successful in terms of networks, friendships and collaborations.


To give colleagues researching the Ageing Society, from Japan and the UK, opportunities to collaborate and socialise, learn from each other and develop skills and behaviours to benefit their research, their research careers and their overall employability.


Activities were divided into three main themes: ‘Provocations’ – which took the form of lectures, site visits and workshops on specific ageing related research matters; ‘Interventions’ which focussed on personal and professional development activities in order to give the participants useful tools and reflection their skills and attributes and ‘Collaborations’ where the main project work was conducted by the teams themselves with expert guidance on hand if needed from the tutor team. 

There were six formal lectures overall ranging from Dr Masayuki Nakamichi’s Grandmother Hypothesis based on observation of Japanese monkey cohort to Dr Kate Bennett’s Ethical Issues session looking at intercultural research ethics. These provocations also included the stimulus of site visits, most notably to the Reeve Court Retirement Village, St Helens. The collaborative theme involved the participants forming teams, working on their projects and eventually delivering presentations to a group of experts drawn from the University of Liverpool and ageing service community. However, collaborations also encompassed the social aspects of the workshop including a formal evening dinner with the Vice Chancellor Professor Janet Beer, the screening of David Lynch’s The Straight Story and a visit to ‘The Story of Glass’ the museum of the St Helen’s Glass Industry.


The projects produced a set of interesting presentations exploring ideas around servicing the ageing population and discovering new research questions. The projects included:

  • Intergenerational relationships through food
  • Promoting social participation through ageing volunteers helping tourists at the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics
  • A ‘Smart Toilet’ designed for use in public spaces’
  • How to make it easier for older members of society to find useful and rewarding work to help prolong their lives
  • ‘Death Education’ a project that explored ways in which people could prepare for the end of their life in a sensitive but enlightened manner

Networks, friendships and collaborations were the main outcomes that emerged from the collaborations and the overall experience.


  • University of Liverpool
  • Osaka University