The 45th British Society of Gerontology conference was always going to be fraught with controversy in light of the current political uncertainty. Perhaps the primary theme of ‘Engaging with Diversity’ seemed almost too appropriate when the conference opening was only 6 days after Britain made #BREXIT a reality.
Indeed, it was difficult for many presentations, conversations in corridors and keynote speakers to focus on engaging with diversity, when as a nation we had decided to divorce, and disengage, from a united Europe. Yet, this only heightened the value of every paper presented. In a time when funding and international research networks are uncertain for the future, researchers from around the world displayed how they had contributed to research on ageing. Thus, through research, enabling older people from all countries, religions, sexualities and backgrounds to engage and be part of society in a meaningful way.
I, as a Masters student of the University of Stirling and first time attendee of the BSG conference, can only speak highly of the community and camaraderie within the BSG. Whilst escorting delegates from building to building, and listening to many presentations, I had the luxury of talking to some of the pioneers and front runners of gerontology. Some of which, were kind enough to share words of encouragement and advice for my budding research career, however, all of which endeavoured to improve the lives of older people whether personally or through academia, working groups or organisations. As a community, it seemed that the work the BSG was producing and implementing was working towards a diverse and united society, no matter what the political climate. As an emerging researcher in ageing, I am excited to hear how the BSG will have pushed the boundaries of science and discovered new means of understanding gerontology at next year’s conference in Swansea. However, for now, I go away encouraged that the BSG continues to improve the lives of older people, like many other academic communities, despite the insecurity that BREXIT brings.