Aging Module at Graz International Summer School Seggau – in partnership ACT-Project (

Every year in July, more than 80 students and 10 professors from over 30 countries meet at the Graz International Summer School Seggau (GUSEGG) in Southern Styria, Austria to discuss global developments and challenges in areas such as society, politics, economics, religion, and culture. One aim of the summer school is to encourage participants to think outside the box and outside of their academic disciplines while engaging with new ideas. Of the multiple thematic workshops, one focuses specifically on Aging Studies. This Aging Studies workshop entitled “Aging, Communication, Technology” is organized by GUSEGG director Roberta Maierhofer (University of Graz) in partnership with the ACT project based at Concordia University, Montreal which offers scholarships to talented students in Aging Studies to participates in GUSEGG. The Aging Studies Workshop at GUSEGG enables students who are interested in questions of age and ageing across disciplines and (research) cultures to exchange with each other and it also helps build a sustainable network of emerging scholars in the field. In addition to introducing students from all disciplines to current research with regard to ageing and communication technologies, it encourages students to share their own ideas and to come up with relevant (research) questions on the topic of ageing. The Aging Studies workshop at GUSEGG organized in cooperation with the ACT project already successfully took place in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Lecturers leading the workshops were Kim Sawchuk (ACT primary investigator, Concordia University), Stephen Katz (Trent University), Line Grenier (Université de Montréal), Helen Kivnik (University of Minnesota), and Dave Madden (Concordia University).



Also in previous years, GUSEGG already featured Aging Studies workshops in its interdisciplinary program. In 2014, the Aging Studies module at GUSEGG was entitled “Aging and Demographic change” and taught by Ulla Kriebernegg (University of Graz) and Marie-Jo Thiel (University of Strassbourg). In the first week, the seminar looked at representations of aging and old age in US-American and Canadian literature and film and discussed how critical analyses of cultural representations can contribute to theorizing the function of age in the construction of identity. The second week of the seminar tackled issues related to the current demographic change through focal points such as anti-ageing cultures, the complexity to assess the situation of those with disabilities and especially dementia, and the sociological and ethical challenges related to the situation of elderly in secularized societies.

In 2013, the Aging Studies seminar discussed the topic of “Cultural Narratives of Longevity” with participating students.  The two-week program took place from June 30th to July 13th 2013 and was supported, among others, by the European Network in Aging Studies’ (ENAS) framework project Live to Be a Hundred: Cultural Narratives of Longevity (CGD, Maastricht). ENAS sponsored seven scholarships for one of the ten specialized seminar modules at the summer school, titled “Cultural Narratives of Longevity”. The seminar module in Aging Studies was led by Ulla Kriebernegg (University Graz) and Stephen Katz (Trent University). Ulla Kriebernegg’s first week “Alive and Kicking at All Ages? Cultural Constructions of Age and Identity in North American Fiction” introduced students to concepts of literary and cultural gerontology and featured guest lectures by Roberta Maierhofer (University Graz), Leni Marshall (University of Wisconsin-Stout), as well as Anita Wohlmann (University of Mainz). Stephen Katz enriched the seminar module in the second week by taking about “The Making and Unmaking of Ageing Identities” and familiarizing students with the importance of the narrative in ageing studies as a way of bridging macro and micro sociologies, coherent and disruptive live courses, and common and expert ways of knowing.