Speaker: Professor Emerita Ursula King, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Bristol.
Abstract: We are living in a new historical time where growing older does not simply mean living longer than in previous generations, but also living without the prescribed, fixed social roles that were given to the elders of traditional societies. This presents an exciting new freedom and a challenging task to shape lives in new ways, and this is especially true of women. Growing older is too often seen as a journey into submissiveness and dependence where most attention is given to the needs for care and the demands made on society by an ageing population. Yet one must also consider what older people can contribute to the community from a lifetime’s wealth of experience, and what care they may be able to give to others. Far too few people consider what is sometimes called the ‘third” or even “fourth stage of life” as an opportunity for flourishing, where ageing can be seen as good news rather than only negative diminishment. What wisdom do we see in old people? Is ageing also an opportunity for “sageing” as has been suggested? I will consider some spiritual dimensions of ageing and gender in order to explore the opportunities and challenges of ageing from a somewhat different standpoint than usual and ask how far spiritual resources can help to nurture the zest and love for life in an ageing population
Biography: Professor Ursula King is University Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies and Emeritus Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol, where she chaired the religion department and directed the Centre for Comparative Studies in Religion and Gender, after teaching for many years at the University of Leeds, in London, and in India.
Professor King is an internationally renowned scholar on spirituality, interfaith dialogue, women and religion. She lectured widely throughout the world, and has been awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Edinburgh, Oslo and Dayton, Ohio as well as research awards from the University of Delhi and Sorbonne, Paris. She is also a Life Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts.
Ursula King is the author and editor of numerous books. Her latest work, The Search for Spirituality, looks at cultural diversity and clarifies the meaning of spirituality in different languages, faiths and societies.