Digital Innovations for a Happier, Healthier Aging: A Transdisciplinary Training

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This summer school is organized by the Quality of Life (QoL) technologies Lab. It is part of the AGE-INT initiative, which aims to build Switzerland's international expertise around innovative solutions for an ageing society.

WHO IS THE COURSE FOR:

The course is designed to accommodate diverse participants, including healthy individuals and patients, medical professionals, caregivers, solution providers, startup founders, and students at various academic levels, from Bachelor and Master via PhD to faculty members. We foster a transdisciplinary approach, welcoming individuals from different fields, including, but not limited to, social, public health, medical and rehabilitation sciences, political sciences, economic, legal, and environmental sciences, computer science, and engineering.

Furthermore, we extend a warm welcome to anyone passionate about the potential synergy between digital technologies and the global challenge of ageing, especially those eager to actively contribute to our ongoing research projects as study participants and as users of the digital solutions being developed within the QoL Lab (QoL.unige.ch).

BACKGROUND:

We live in an ageing world that is undergoing remarkable changes. Every global region is experiencing an increase in longevity, which naturally brings more physiological limitations and threats to maintaining an adequate quality of life. This phenomenon creates new demands for innovations that cover different health-related quality of life (HRQoL) domains and can support individuals to live longer in good health [1, 2]. In this context, HRQoL innovations intend to use digital technologies to maintain the older adults’ good health and health-related quality of life (HRQoL), delay care dependency, and even prevent non-communicable diseases [3, 4, 5].

Technological advancement is an important factor in this ecosystem since it is continuously creating new opportunities to apply emerging resources that attend to the needs and desires of older adults, integrating them into the social and physical environments in which we age. Therefore, innovators must, on the one hand, be aware of the opportunities and threats related to these technologies, while, on the other hand,  must engage in iterative co-design with older adults rather than designing ‘for them’, and must develop solutions that are responsive to the older adults’ needs while maintaining user control, and support their health and everyday quality of life (QoL) [6].

The summer school will address important questions at the heart of current digital technologies and older adults. Several of these questions will emphasize the concept of prevention, which typically consists of methods or activities that seek to reduce or deter health issues, protect the current state of well-being, or promote desired HRQoL outcomes or behaviours.

Participants will be able to learn about different types of digital technologies, their application areas, the design considerations related to such technologies, and the ethical, legal, and other factors to be considered while designing and implementing such systems.

The course will include lectures, case studies, mock debates, group work on a joint project presented in front of the external jury at the end of the course, and more. It will also emphasize the importance of transdisciplinarity, collaboration, and end-user participation when designing new objects, products, services, or experiences for the ageing population through a project-based approach and a human-centred design process.

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

  • acquire a solid theoretical basis on QoL and HRQoL assessment for older adults in order to better understand the ways to improve them through digital technologies
  • acquire a solid understanding of the constraints and the opportunities related to active and passive behavioural data sensing in the daily life of older adults
  • become familiar with and gain insights into the functioning and implications of designing, implementing, and evaluating assistive technologies for older adults
  • understand ethical considerations to be addressed while working with assistive technology for older adults and the importance of data governance

Structure: Each day of the week will be organised around a specific theme and follow the pattern of

1.      specific use case 

2.      challenges and lessons learned

3.      best practices to design, implement and evaluate assistive technologies for older adults following ethical and other relevant regulations

Teaching:

This transdisciplinary summer school will be taught in English by various academic experts in their respective fields. We will leverage a mix of use-case and project-based learning. The morning sessions will be reserved for presentations from our speakers, while the afternoon sessions will focus on hands-on and practical implementation based on the morning lectures.

[1] Ageing and health

[2] Assistive technology

[3] Pramod, D. (2022). Assistive Technology for Elderly People: State of the Art Review and Future Research Agenda, Science & Technology Libraries, DOI

[4] Saborowski, M., and Kollak, I. (2015). “‘How do you care for technology?’ – Care professionals’ experiences with assistive technology in care of the elderly,” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 93, pp. 133–140, Apr. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2014.05.006.

[5] Changizi, M., and Kaveh, M.H. (2017). Effectiveness of the mHealth technology in improvement of healthy behaviors in an elderly population-a systematic review. Mhealth. 2017 Nov 27;3:51. doi: 10.21037/mhealth.2017.08.06.

[6] Bruce, C., Harrison, P., Giammattei, C., Desai, S., Sol, J.R., Jones, S., Schwartz, R. (2020). Evaluating Patient-Centered Mobile Health Technologies: Definitions, Methodologies, and Outcomes. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2020;8(11):e17577. doi: 10.2196/17577

Tuition fee: 100 CHF 

Free for AGE-INT members: Please indicate in your motivation letter if you are a member!

Course + Accommodation Package:

Participants choosing the package can register through us for housing at the Cité universitaire de Genève. Only a limited number of rooms are available for that course. All applications are handled on a first-come-first-served basis and assignments will be subject to availability.

Note: We only arrange housing from Saturday to Saturday. Check-in is on Saturday, 30 June, and check-out is on Saturday, 6 July.

Price accommodation: CHF 336 / 1 week

 

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15 April 2024

Organizers:

 

Prof. Katarzyna Wac, UNIGE

Prof Katarzyna Wac, Ph.D., is a Full Professor of Computer Science at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and an Invited Professor of Health Informatics at the Department of Computer Science (DIKU), University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and was affiliated with Stanford University and Medical Centre in 2013-2020. She is leading the Quality of Life Technologies lab, responsibly unleashing the power of data to benefit the quality of life of all individuals. More specifically, the lab’s research interests revolve around the fundamental and algorithmic problems as well as human-centric challenges of the systems enabling an assessment and improvement of human behavior, well-being, health, disease self-management, and quality of life as it unfolds naturally over time and in context.

 

 Jing Z. Forrest, UNIGE

Ms. Jing Z. Forrest is currently a Ph.D. student and a member of the Quality of Life Lab at the Institute of Service Science, University of Geneva, Switzerland. She holds a Master of Engineer degree in Operational Research from George Mason University in Virginia, United States. Before joining UN agencies, Ms. Forrest gained valuable experience working for renowned consulting firms, including Price Waterhouse Coopers.

In her current role as a Business Process Change Manager at the United Nations, Ms. Forrest plays a crucial role in supporting the global supply chain management process using SAP tools. Simultaneously, she is pursuing her Ph.D. under the guidance of Professor Wac, with a specific focus on Assistive Technologies for the Ageing population. Her research is closely aligned with the United Nations Substantive Development Goals, aiming to contribute significantly to this field.

Naomi Njaqui, Johnson County Community College, USA - 2023 Edition

"I know that the Geneva summer school helps me truly branch out on how the ageing population can be well taken care of that doesn’t involve medication. I know I have a lot to learn when it comes to healthcare because that is my interest and learning this abroad too, as I learn different cultures and new ways of living like my new passion which is to learn French enough to converse with people and I am so grateful and excited that Geneva summer school was my first experience because it was really great. The beauty of Geneva and its people too is something to remember to say the least!"


Pallabi Bhowmick, Indiana University Bloomington, USA - 2023 Edition

"Geneva Summer School’s reputation precedes itself, so when I came across the Geneva Summer School course, Leveraging Innovative Technologies for Ageing Well: A Transdisciplinary Training, led by Prof. Katarzyna Wac, I jumped at the opportunity! However, it was the ThinkSwiss scholarship that turned this aspiration into reality.

As a Doctoral Candidate in the United States, my research focuses on reducing social isolation among older adults and addressing ageism and stigma in technology design. Therefore, this GSS course perfectly aligned with my research interest, and I was very excited to get accepted to the course. However, persistent concerns about financing international travel made the news of the ThinkSwiss Scholarship's confirmation about covering my travel and accommodation expenses all the more exhilarating.

I am delighted to share my Geneva Summer School experience, a journey that has enriched both my academic and personal growth. Participating in the Geneva Summer School offered me an exceptional opportunity to immerse myself in a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment. From the engaging lectures to the interactive discussions with fellow participants from diverse backgrounds, each day was a new adventure in learning. The interdisciplinary knowledge exchange among participants helped us expand our knowledge base.

What truly stood out was the quality of guest speakers. Their expertise, combined with their passion for this research area, fostered an inspiring atmosphere. I enjoyed their presentations, felt encouraged to ask questions, challenge my perspectives, and engage in meaningful discussions. The knowledge and insights I gained from these interactions have undeniably contributed to my personal and academic growth. These discussions extended beyond the classroom. Team lunches in the beautiful outdoors also fostered stimulating conversations in a more informal setting."

"The course finally culminated into four interesting project pitches from four teams formed through random grouping. The diverse perspectives and expertise of participants from varying backgrounds enriched the group project experience. I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating on the project as well as learning about the other three ideas, all of which were innovative and achievable."

Presenting project pitches

"Overall, attending the Geneva Summer School was a remarkable experience that I will forever cherish. It not only broadened my academic perspectives but also allowed me to form lasting connections with incredible individuals from around the globe. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone seeking an intellectually invigorating and culturally immersive summer program."

Team Dinner at Le Lacustre at the end of the Summer School