Past Event

New Utopias: How Would You Make the Most of Your Longer Life?

April 5, 2022
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
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VIRTUAL EVENT | 1:00 p.m. (New York) | 7:00 p.m. (Paris)

In a utopia, our “golden” years are filled with strong social bonds, good health, and security. How do you envision the last third of your life? With great gains in longevity in the Twentieth Century, how do we build societies that are less age-segregated, and that offer opportunities to older adults to be productive in the labor force and/or engaged socially? At 70, you may be caring for a 95 year-old parent, or you may be battling multiple chronic diseases, or you may be healthy and working. As we begin to go beyond the discussions of the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on older individuals around the world, it is time to focus on the often-neglected or misunderstood topic of later life, its implications for different societies, and its possibilities for individuals and communities. At a time of unprecedented global aging, our panelists – scholars with specialization in the medical and cultural issues of aging – will discuss new visions for the future.
This program is co-organized with the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center and the Committee on Global Thought.

New Utopias is a series of panel discussions on the world to come presented by Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the Alliance Program, and the European Institute.


Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University, Senior Research Scholar for the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and current Chair of the Columbia Committee on Global Thought. From 2004 through 2012, Dr. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a global organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships between Asia and the U.S. In 2012, in recognition of Dr. Desai’s leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board. An internationally renowned scholar of Asian art, she has published and lectured extensively on the intersection of traditional and contemporary arts and policy in diverse countries of Asia. Read her full biography.

Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, Dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health since 2008, is a leader in the fields of epidemiology and geriatric medicine. She additionally serves as the Director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center. Trained in cardiovascular and chronic disease epidemiology and geriatrics, she has dedicated her career to the science of healthy aging and creating a health span that matches our increased life expectancy, prevention of frailty, disability and cardiovascular disease, and defining how to transition to a world where greater longevity benefits people of all ages. Read her full biography.

Dr. Isabella Aboderin holds a dual appointment as Senior Research Scientist and Head of the Program on Aging and Development at the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), Nairobi, and is Associate Professor of Gerontology at the University of Southampton. Dr. Aboderin is the Regional Chair for Africa of the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG), Technical Advisor to the Global Commission on Aging in Developing Countries, Member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Aging Societies, Board Member of HelpAge International, and Advisory Board Member of the World Demographic and Aging Forum (WDA). She holds a PhD from the School for Policy Studies from the University of Bristol, UK, an MSc in Health Promotion Sciences from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Bristol. Read her full biography.

John Beard, MBBS PhD, works globally with academia, policy makers and the private sector to reimagine the second half of life. He is a Professor with the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, commissioner with the US National Academy of Medicine Commission on Healthy Longevity and visiting professor at Toulouse and Peking Universities. From 2009 to 2019, he was Director of Ageing and Life Course with the World Health Organization in Geneva where he led major global initiatives including the World report on ageing and health which provides the foundation for the current UN Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030.In 2012, he founded the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities which now covers over 250 million people.  Read his full biography.