Posted: 00:00 IST
NUI Galway is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Tom Scharf as the new director of the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology (ICSG). Having previously directed a research centre at Keele University (UK) with a strong international reputation for its work on ageing, Professor Scharf is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to debates about ageing policy in Ireland.
"Population ageing presents both opportunities and challenges for all nations. I am delighted to be taking up this post at a time when there is such an interest in issues arising from demographic change in Ireland. My aim is to ensure that NUI Galway continues to play a leading role in ensuring that public debates on ageing are well informed by research evidence," commented Professor Scharf.
With a first degree in German and Politics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a doctorate in Political Science from Aston University, Professor Scharf comes to NUI Galway with more than 20 years' experience of conducting research on ageing. The quality and impact of this work was formally recognised in 2009 when Professor Scharf was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences – the body charged with promoting the social sciences in the UK for the public benefit.
Professor Scharf's first post in gerontology was at Bangor University where he was researcher on an international study of ageing in rural communities. He moved to Keele University in 1992, initially as a lecturer in Modern German Studies. Professor Scharf spent two years as Visiting Professor of European Studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany, before returning to Keele in 1998 to join its Centre for Social Gerontology. During his time at Keele, Professor Scharf initiated a major programme of research on aspects of disadvantage faced by older people. This included a path-breaking project which addressed issues relating to social exclusion and quality of life of older people living in some of England's most disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. With a keen interest in public policy, Professor Scharf has subsequently conducted research for UK government departments, and for national organisations such as Help the Aged. He continues to be involved in a study of older people's participation in disadvantaged communities in Manchester, and a longitudinal study of ageing in a purpose-built retirement community.
Professor Scharf takes over as ICSG director from Professor Eamon O'Shea. Professor O'Shea was instrumental in establishing ICSG in 2006 as a multidisciplinary research centre on ageing with a focus on research, education and training in the field of social gerontology in Ireland and internationally. In handing over to his successor, Professor O'Shea said: "The establishment of a new Chair in Social Gerontology at NUI Galway and Tom Scharf's appointment to the post puts Galway in a real leadership role in relation to ageing in Ireland and internationally".
Professor Scharf welcomes the chance to build on the expertise that already exists at NUI Galway in relation to ageing issues. The first Centre of its kind in Ireland, ICSG offers research expertise and practical support to public, private and voluntary agencies involved in the formulation and implementation of public policy for older people at international, national, regional and local levels. Commenting on his appointment, Professor Scharf said, "This is a fantastic opportunity to make a positive contribution to research and education on a topic that should be at the top of everyone's agenda. I look forward to working with colleagues at NUI Galway to ensure that our work has a major impact on Irish society".