The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) was founded in 1945 to promote scientific study of aging and to encourage exchange of the resulting knowledge among scientists, teachers, practitioners, and decision makers in an aging society. GSA was the first scientific organization in the United States to promote a distinctive interdisciplinary focus on the study of human aging, a focus that continues to be reflected in its major journals—the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences (published monthly); Journals of Gerontology: Biology and Medical Sciences, and Gerontologist, which focuses on applied research and policy issues (published bimonthly).
GSA maintains a membership of more than 6,500, and its annual meetings attract more than 3,500 participants in its interdisciplinary scientific programs. A special Committee on Humanities and Arts has broadened GSA’s scope in recent years. Information about GSA’s objectives, special events, and annual scientific programs is available on the Web at http://www.geron.org.
Although GSA historically attracted primarily academic scholars and investigators in gerontology, the organization has maintained an interest in promoting sound gerontological practice and in translating scientific information into effective social policies. Since 1960, an Emerging Scholar and Professional Organization program has promoted and facilitated development of careers in gerontology. In 1974, GSA leadership responded to a new federal initiative in aging, the Older American’s Act, with the creation of what became the Association for Gerontology on Higher Education (AGHE). AGHE focused on training materials and programs designed primarily for smaller academic institutions and initially worked independently before reintegrating administratively with GSA in 1999. AGHE provides more than 350 member institutions consulting service for developing programs promoting careers in gerontology; guidelines for developing training programs; a national directory of training programs; surveys assessing the effectiveness of career training programs in aging; and a broad range of training materials. AGHE’s annual meetings showcase current information on key issues in effective promotion of careers in gerontology. Current information on AGHE’s services, publications, and annual meetings is available at http://aghe.org.
GSA has issued over the years a number of timely publications addressing issues of gerontological research, education, and public policy and for more than two decades has conducted a postdoctoral research training program for younger academics with career interest in aging. In the 1970s, GSA also provided summer research training institutes for college and university faculty. From time to time, GSA administers foundation-supported fellowships in special areas, such as research in biomedicine and social work.
GSA has continually related scholarship and research on human aging to assessment of alternative policies for an aging society. The society is a founding member of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, a coalition of more than 40 national aging organizations that meets regularly to review the status of aging policies and to recommend national strategies. GSA’s policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society (NAAS), was established in 1994 to add a new dimension to GSA’s interest in aging policies. NAAS conducts research identifying challenges and opportunities in an aging society and presents policy-relevant findings from research to the public, the press, and policy makers. Published reports, research briefs, and fact sheets are made available to the press and Congress. NAAS’s Public Policy and Aging Report is distributed regularly to more than 2,500 policy makers, investigators, and members of the media. Effective ways to promote civic engagement in the interest of moving aging issues onto the civic agendas of communities is an example of the NAAS’s initiatives. For information about NAAS research and publications, see http://agingsociety.org.
GSA is a founding member of the International Association of Gerontology (IAG), an organization that brings together every 3 years scholars, scientists, and practitioners in gerontology and geriatrics from more than 50 countries worldwide. IAG has played an important role in advising the United Nations and periodic World Congresses on Aging on aging issues in both more developed and less developed countries. The presidency of IAG, which rotates among participating countries every 3 years, was the responsibility of GSA leadership from 1982 to 1985; in 2005, IAG leadership is from Canada. For current information on activities and plans for the next international congress, visit http://sfu.ca/iag.
- Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, http://aghe.org
- Gerontological Society of America, http://www.geron.org
- National Academy on an Aging Society, http://agingsociety.org