From permafrost to the judicial system
On 27 February, the Spring Semester of the Senior Citizens University kicks off with a lecture about the importance of the journal Camera Work, first published in 1903, for photography. Besides social topics such as how to deal with failure, philosophical questions about morals and happiness, or the latest research findings about having a cheerful disposition, the Senior Citizens University also explores topics from the natural sciences: UZH professor of physics Laura Baudis investigates dark matter in the Milky Way, ETH chemist Prof. Roberto Marquardt explains how atoms move within molecules, and information technologist Dr. Jan Beutel researches permafrost on the Matterhorn.
In the field of medicine, the program for example explores the causes and remedies for burnout, the pros and cons of sport and strength training, as well as new therapeutic approaches to stroke recovery and heart disease. The Institute of Law, meanwhile, examines whether the Swiss juvenile criminal law system treats troubled youths too softly and looks at ways of amending Switzerland’s popular initiative system to avoid clashes with international law.
Ability to reflect critically
This medley of academic topics from UZH and ETH is greatly appreciated by the senior citizens attending the lectures. “On top of the good mix of topics, we want to put a stronger focus on promoting critical examination and participation in the future,” explains Prof. Mike Martin, President of the Senior Citizens University. “As society has developed, the intellectual requirements in old age have also increased: As a result of digitalization and open science policy, people now need to be able to critically reflect and assess research findings. This is what we want to help our visitors achieve - and indirectly also boost their mental fitness.”
Motivated instructors, committed participants
In addition to excursions and sporting or cultural events, the Senior Citizens University also organizes special events focusing on specific topics as well as the opportunity to take part in certain research studies. Participants are to be given a greater role in selecting topics for the lectures in the future, which also motivates the academics giving the lectures. “As an instructor, I was thrilled by the enormous interest and constructive criticism,” says Mike Martin, whose research as UZH professor of gerontopsychology and gerontology also focuses on healthy aging.
UZH3: The Senior Citizens University of UZH
The Senior Citizens University of Zurich (UZH3) is a financially independent continuing education institution for people aged 60 and over with around 3,000 registered members. Its teaching staff is from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich. Guests of all ages can also attend the lectures for a fee of 10 Swiss francs.