Interest in science has no age limit

WebinarCitizen Science

Citizen science and science education with and for older people

"Austria is growing, and Austria is getting older," says Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas (press conference 2020). According to the National Statistical Institute, there have been more senior citizens living in the country than children and young people since 2021. The proportion of people aged 65 and over is currently around 1.8 million, which is almost 20% of Austria's total population of 9.1 million. This trend will continue in the future - by 2060 their share is expected to be 30%.

With increasing life expectancy and improved health, older people are gaining an ever longer period of life in which to get involved socially and academically. According to the Austrian Federal Plan for Senior Citizens, participation and involvement in voluntary work also play an important role in striving for "active ageing" and promoting the quality of life and satisfaction of ageing people. But do senior citizens want to get involved in science and research? Are they even interested in this topic? Even though no figures are available from Austria for this population group, the results of the survey on the scientific attitudes of the EU population (Eurobarometer, 2021) provide an initial indication: although more than half of people aged 55 and over think that science is so complicated that they are not interested in it, 48% would like to learn more about scientific findings.

From the point of view of citizen science and science communication, this potential should be exploited to a greater extent, as both approaches help to reduce the distance to science. In Austria, there are already numerous science communication programs for children and young people, and some for adults as well. However, there is a need to catch up when it comes to offers for senior citizens.

As part of the panel discussion, various initiatives will therefore be presented in order to show what offers can look like and how the growing population group of senior citizens can best be involved in science and research.

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The event language is German.


Panel guests

  • Katharina Heimerl is an associate professor, has been researching dying, death and mourning for over 25 years and has been working at the Institute of Nursing Science at the University of Vienna since 2018. Her research focuses on palliative care, palliative geriatrics and dementia care. She works primarily in participatory and action-oriented research projects, including the Sparkling Science 2.0 project "SoKuL - Erzähl über Sorgekulturen am Lebensende" (SoKuL - Narrating about care cultures at the end of life).
  • Ingrid Hurtl is a Citizen Scientist in the Trusted Spotter Network for Geosphere Austria.
  • Marie Niederleithinger is currently researching the care of chronic wounds in Austria. She is gathering perspectives from mostly older people affected. Shortly before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, she volunteered to run a "teatime with researchers" with pensioners in Vienna. In the summer of this year, she also organized a workshop with pensioners on the topic of grief as part of an exhibition project she organized.
  • Christian Peer researches and teaches as a senior scientist at the future.lab Research Center of the Vienna University of Technology. As a cultural anthropologist, civil engineer, environmental and spatial planner, he deals with inter- and transdisciplinary urban and regional development and the associated perspectives of urban studies and science and technology studies. In the application-oriented research projects CO-HOPE and OPUSH, he is currently specifically involving older people in formats of open scientific work.  

  • Andrea Prittmann has been head of the ZCOM Zuse Computer Museum in Hoyerswerda (Germany) since 2017. As project coordinator since 2013, she was responsible for the new concept in terms of content and design, the development of the permanent exhibition, the expansion of the collection as well as the inventory and relocation of the Zuse Computer Museum. The ZCOM is now a meeting place for young and old. For this reason, special offers for senior citizens are developed and implemented, such as the "technology ambassadors".

18. December 2023 14:00 to 16:00 Online OeAD - Zentrum für Citizen Science Export Event as iCal