Death gives life to academic research centre
The UK’s first research centre devoted to the study of dying will open this week at the University of Bath.
The centre for death and society (CDAS) opens on Saturday and will focus on research into social attitudes to dying and grief. It will also support, through training and workshops, businesses and other organisations, such as local governments and charities, that deal with death and bereavement.
The centre’s launch forms part of an international conference on the social context of death, which is taking place at the university this week. The conference, which is expected to attract 200 of the world’s experts on death, dying and disposal, will discuss topics ranging from funeral trends to how death has replaced sex on TV.
“Public and academic interest in death has developed rapidly over the past decade, and people are increasingly thinking about death and in new ways,” said Glennys Howarth, the head of the university’s department of social and policy sciences and the founder of CDAS.
“When I started my research into death the 1980s, it seemed there was no one out there doing this sort of thing. Now I have noticed more and more researchers becoming involved, from so many different angles.
“Culturally, death is becoming increasingly prominent through TV programmes like Six Feet Under and Desperate Housewives, which is narrated by the a dead woman, but our attitudes to death and burial are changing too.”
Dr Howarth, who edits the death studies journal Mortality, said there was “a strong need” for research-based information that could underpin the policy and practices involved in death, and support the work of health authorities, charities and private business on death-related issues.
“The centre for death and society will aim to meet these needs, and provide a focused resource for academia, industry and wider society.”
The university is already planning to create a masters qualification in death and society to encourage academics to look at developing research careers in this area. Autor: Liz Ford