Fernando Torres-Gil , a professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, will be leading a one-day symposium later this week to focus on pressing issues related to aging. Several topics to be discussed include current and past demographic trends, issues of diversity in aging, and the implications of the aging of baby boomers and Mexican-Americans in the U.S.
During the event, which will be held on Thursday, March 21 at UCLA’s De Neve Commons, one of the most important concerns will be identifying how demographic trends presently affect us, while extrapolating as to their ramifications for our future.
“Our goal is to highlight the convergence of two major trends: the aging of society and the growing diversity of the United States,” explained Torres-Gil, currently the Director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging.. “[We seek] to describe and explain why these two trends will change the United States in profound ways and, most importantly, to promote an intergenerational and interracial coalition.”
The concerns are relevant to numerous issues that span across all three of UCLA Luskin’s departments – public policy, social welfare and urban planning.
“Issues [of gerontology and geriatrics] should be something we’re all interested in, because current debates regarding healthcare in the Obama administration relate to the aging of baby boomers, who will be eligible for medicare,” explained Courtney Bleecher, a second-year Social Welfare student who assisted in organizing the conference.
As currently planned, the day of the symposium will be packed
with events. The conference begins with a roundtable discussion about enhancing
economic security for the Latino community. This discussion will be led by
Torres-Gil, as it pertains to his research focusing on the aging of
Mexican-American baby boomers.
Next, the conference attendees will be provided lunch while the keynote speaker, Leobarda Estrada  from UCLA Luskin, presents “Demographic Forces Reshaping the U.S.”
In the afternoon, the event transforms into a policy symposium, in which a variety of experts and faculty at UCLA will present on aging-relating issues. Highlighting the symposium are Dr. Gary Small, a professor in Psychiatry, and Kathleen McGarry, who is a professor of Economics.
The policy symposium will be followed by a poster session that gives UCLA gerontology students the chance to present their research and network with the preeminent minds in the field.
“This is a great opportunity for graduate students to put together everything we’ve learned,” said Eun Ha Su, a Social Welfare student at UCLA Luskin, “while observing and learning from active researchers in one day.”
“Our hope is that this can encourage the next crop of researchers, policy analysts and faculty to take an interest in these issues,” Torres-Gil said.
Finally, the event will culminate with the latest in the Luskin Lecture Series  with A. Barry Rand, the CEO of AARP , a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps the elderly improve the quality of their lives.
The three graduate students organizing this event under the mentorship of Professor Torres-Gil –Bleecher, Suh and Lindsay Minter - can either be involved in one of two tracks. In the ‘Micro’ track, students work with individuals directly, while in the ‘Macro’ track individuals have the opportunity to learn about effecting change on a wider scale such as in altering policy-making.
Torres-Gil received his third presidential appointment (with Senate Confirmation) when President Barack Obama appointed him as Vice Chair of the National Council on Disability in 2010. During his public service in Washington, D.C., he also served as Staff Director of the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging under his mentor, Congressman Edward R. Roybal.
The UCLA Luskin professor has also been internationally recognized as a leading spokesperson on demographics, aging, and public policy and has an extensive portfolio of public service.
“[UCLA is] a major ‘go-to’ place for research and policy analysis in gerontology and geriatrics,” Torres-Gil said. “We have some of the best-known faculty in geriatrics and social science. We intend to use this symposium to showcase what UCLA can offer in the demography of aging.
“In addition, our agenda is to show that UCLA has much to contribute to the national dialogue and debates in aging, especially since many policy agendas are set on the east coast. We believe that a west coast perspective is crucial since much of our country’s future is determined by events in California and the Southwest.”
The Luskin Lecture Series  is designed to enhance public discourse on topics relevant to today’s societal needs. Bringing renowned public intellectuals and scholars together with national and local leaders, the Luskin Lecture Series  presents issues that are changing the way our country addresses its most pressing problems. For more information on upcoming Luskin Lecture Series events, please click here .