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
“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,”
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 .