Professor John Clarkson receives KU Leuven honorary doctorate for outstanding research on ageing

Posted by on May 3, 2012 in NEWS | No Comments

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven confers a number of honorary doctorates in recognition of extraordinary academic, social, or cultural contributions. On 2 February 2012, the university presented honorary doctorates to Laura Carstensen, John Clarkson, Roger Coleman, John Myles and Mary Tinetti. These five researchers have made and continue to make important contributions to research on ageing, this year’s focus.

John Clarkson and Roger Coleman: Designers’ response to ageing

Roger Coleman is Professor Emeritus in Inclusive Design at London’s Royal College of Art. In 1994, he established a European network specialised in design and ageing. John Clarkson is Professor of Engineering Design and Director of the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre, and has extensive experience in the field of product development.

The two joined forces, including for the research project i~design, to focus on the development of an ‘inclusive design’ concept. Inclusive design is the umbrella term for the design of everyday products and services usable and accessible for people excluded by rapidly changing technology – particularly, in the case of Coleman and Clarkson, older people. Products range from smart packaging to user-friendly mobile phones and fully accessible subway stations. Clarkson and Coleman developed a manual for industrial actors and the ‘exclusion audit’, an approach for capturing how many people are excluded from using a particular product or service.

“The main reasons for applauding these two researchers is their social importance, their pioneering role and the bridges they built between various disciplines,” says nominator Ann Heylighen. “They emphasise the value of age and disability for innovation, and send a strong message to young people: our ageing society, and the challenges associated with it, is not something that concerns policy makers and social services specialists alone. Coleman put it this way: ‘The ageing society is about our future selves, and it challenges many different disciplines, include design and engineering.”