"Austria is growing, and Austria is getting older," said Tobias Thomas, Director General of Statistics Austria in a press conference in 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%.
Staying active in old age
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.
Citizen science and science education with and for seniors
Would senior citizens like to get involved in science and research? Are they interested in this topic at all? Although 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 over 55 think that science is so complicated that they do not understand much about it, 48% would like to learn more about scientific developments.
From the point of view of citizen science and science communication, this potential should be explored 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.
In conversation with experts
In the online panel discussion on December 18, 14:00-16:00, experts will report on their work and jointly explore the needs and potential for citizen science and science education with older target groups. Guests on the podium will be:
- Katharina Heimerl - Associate Professor at the Institute of Nursing Science at the University of Vienna and head of the “SoKuL project”.
- Marie Niederleithinger - researcher in the Ludwig Boltzmann Research Group "Senescence and Healing of Wounds" and science communicator
- Christian Peer - Researcher at the FutureLab of TU Wien and scientific project lead of "Urban Heat Stories"
- Andrea Prittmann - Director of the Zuse Computer Museum in Hoyerswerda (DE)