Gunhild Hagestad, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at CWRU and an internationally recognized leader in the sociology of age and the life course and related fields, delivered a lecture on January 20 entitled “How does a lifelong life-course researcher respond to a call for personal perspectives on aging?”
Drawing on classic sociological analyses of the stranger, Professor Hagestad observed that gerontology as a field has done little to redress the culture practice of treating older adults as “strangers”. She argued that too often, scholars of age use an “othering” approach of alienating the aging experience from the agenda of exploring humanity.
During her visit, Gunhild also led a meeting with graduate students organized by the Sociology Graduate Student Association, and provided constructive suggestions to each individual’s research interest. Although it was the first time she had met many current graduate students, her spirit of mentorship was evident through her open-mindedness and her willingness to facilitate young researchers’ intellectual growth. Instead of examining the impossibility in our research agenda, she highlighted the possibility and extended the potential directions that we can pursue in our future research.
Knowledge is not what distinguishes us, but what unites us. Dr. Hagestad’s presence reminds us of how to use the knowledge to bridge the communication between groups differentiated by age and how to dissolve the boundaries drawn in an age-segregated society.