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Dr Susan O'Neill

In April 2015, the Trinity Long Room Hub was delighted to welcome Dr Susan O'Neill as a Visiting Research Fellow.

Dr O'Neill is Associate Professor of Arts Education at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. She was appointed as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub in collaboration with the School of Drama, Film and Music. Her visit contributed to Trinity’s Identities in Transformation and Creative Arts Practice research themes. 

There has been an increase in recent years in European and international policies and initiatives addressing the challenges associated with wellbeing and care of the rapidly growing older population in Europe and elsewhere. In particular, arts for health initiatives have increased and yet there is lack of understanding about how these initiatives best support active and positive aging and wellbeing, particularly in relation to abilities to communicate and build relationships with younger generations.

This research addresses these issues by exploring the active engagement of older adults involved in intergenerational arts programs and creative collaborations to further understanding of how sense-making involves multimodal affordances that foster positive relationship across generations, communication, positive identities and wellbeing. Using a multimodal literacy frame, the research examines what participants create through artwork or music as forms of visual, kinesthetic or aural texts. Using the term “text” as the frame of reference makes explicit that participants are exposed to learning opportunities that might expand their communication and identity options.

Given that by its very nature multimodal communication crosses boundaries, the research will examine existing intergenerational arts programs to learn about the affordances of multimodal sense-making as a way of opening up spaces for positive aging during the Third and Fourth Ages (age 55+ and a part of the life-course that is known to involve many stressful events associated with ageing).

Dr O'Neill gave a public lecture titled 'Enhancing Wellbeing in Later Life: Multimodal Affordances of Intergenerational Arts Practice' at 6.15pm on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 in the Trinity Long Room Hub.

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