The first three look at the implications of Britain’s ageing population and will take place in London, Sheffield and Edinburgh, chaired by journalist Evan Davis, classicist Mary Beard and actor Simon Callow.
All will give academics a chance to flag up the vital role research can play in helping us understand and address the challenges, though speakers will also include people such as television presenter Sally Magnusson, author of Where Memories Go: How Dementia Changes Everything, Bronwen Maddox, editor of Prospect magazine, and Ilona Haslewood of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Ageing Society team.
“Benefit or burden? Coming to terms with ageing Britain”, to be held in London’s Royal Society on 26 February, will consider whether the notion of “the welfare generation” is a myth, what the economy might gain from an older workforce, and how politicians and policy-makers might learn to harness the potential of an ageing population.
“Too Old and Ugly to be Useful? Challenging Negative Representations of Older People” (University of Sheffield, 25 March) will consider whether there has ever been a golden age for ageing – and how we can debunk the pervasive negative stereotypes of our later years.
Finally, “The Best Years of our Lives? Body, Brain and Well-Being (Assembly Hall, The Mound, Edinburgh, 29 April) will look at the physical impact of ageing, the restrictions they impose upon us – and how far flexible working and new forms of “retirement” might enable us to live a longer, fuller lives.
Future series of British Academy Debates will consider immigration and well-being.