The mission of the Center for Generational Studies is to foster a “living-research environment” for programs, research and education. The Center’s mission is compatible with the University’s mission of teaching, research, public service, and application of knowledge to the community.
Goal #1 – To position the University of South Alabama, in partnership with the community, as a national leader in developing community based research on aging, the life course, and intergenerational relationships.
Goal #2 – To secure external funding for development, implementation, and evaluation of educational and research programs, focusing on aging in life course perspective, intergenerational relationships in families and communities, and multi-generational solutions to issues related to healthy aging.
Goal #3 – To provide educational experiences for USA students and members of the communities in the USA service region to increase knowledge of multi-generational strategies that enhance quality of life throughout the life course.
Value Added for USA and the Community
The University of South Alabama currently offers courses, conducts research, and provides health care focused on aging. The Center for Generational Studies adds the intergenerational, multi-generational, and life course perspectives which are gaining recognition in the national and international research/program literature on aging. The University of South Alabama is uniquely positioned to become a national leader for life course research on healthy aging in communities:
(1) Social/Behavioral Sciences – The University has a strong social science program in gerontology, including undergraduate and graduate certificates and an interdisciplinary minor in gerontology based on guidelines of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE); the current director of the USA Programs in Gerontology is co-chair and founding member of the AGHE Committee on Intergenerational Learning and Research; the sociology and psychology departments have active research projects on family and aging; and the political science department offers courses and conducts research relevant to public policy and public administration of programs in aging; the interdisciplinary studies program in the College of Education and Professional Studies offers social/behavioral coursework and a gerontology specialization in collaboration with the USA Programs in Gerontology.
(2) Health Sciences – The USA Department of Family Practice, College of Medicine, has strong ties in the community, providing geriatric services to the Central Plaza Towers community of the Mobile Housing Board (MHB), where the MHB has constructed a nationally innovative assisted living facility for low-income residents; the College of Nursing has numerous projects in the community serving all ages; the College of Allied Health Professions is active in community based research as well as service delivery, service-learning, and research.
(3) Technology – The College of Engineering (COE) and School of Computer Information Sciences (CIS) offer possibilities for collaboration not commonly available within the State or nationally. Researchers from these colleges have proposed research to improve real-time data collection in communities and institutional living settings and to explore “creative application of non-obtrusive pervasive computing to monitor health and to help caregivers and other stakeholders” to develop a more complete and accurate picture of health and well-being.
(4) Gerontology Research Network– This collaborative of USA researchers and stakeholders from community based organizations meet to discuss opportunities for partnerships in response to specific grant programs.
(5) Founding Community Partner – The Center for Generational Studies was founded as a partnership with Via Health, Fitness and Enrichment Center. Via has a 40-year history providing services to Mobile residents aged 50+. Via has received national recognition and awards for exemplary intergenerational programming. Via has been an informal community partner with USA for 25 years, providing a setting for internships, jointly sponsored community health events, multi-generational service-learning, and has partnered with USA in advocating for lifelong health and learning.
Significant Accomplishments to Date
- Sponsored or Co-Sponsored Annual Coastal Intergenerational Conferences since November 2012
- Created partnership with USA Family Physicians to provide clinic services at Via
- Conducted Legacy Leadership Institute in summer (sponsored by Area Agency on Aging) to train community-based seniors as volunteer advocates
- Received over $760,000 in external funding
- Administered almost $200,000 in scholarships (AHEPA Scholarships) and awards (Stovall Family Research Prize) for students conducting research or seeking careers in fields related to aging, life course, and intergenerational relationships