A Virtual Interdisciplinary Conference



presentations exploring the existential gravity of ageing and the art of dying

Videos Premiere 4 September 2020

::: McDonald Centre ::: Oxford Institute of Population Ageing ::: Oxford Healthcare Values Partnership :::

Timetable and Speaker Biographies

(scroll down for the video presentation schedule and speaker biographies)

Plenary Presentations

Where available, videos will premiere on 4 September 2020 at the times listed below. Additional videos might also be made available. All videos will remain available for public viewing through the end of the calendar year.

9.00am Nigel Biggar, Conference Welcome Message (2:40 min)
               Frits de Lange, The existential gravity of ageing (36:52 min)
9.45am Els van Wijngaarden, The dark side of ageing: lessons from older people who have a sense that their life is no longer worth living (41:46 min)

Frederik (Frits) de Lange, PhD

is Professor of Ethics at the Protestant Theological University, Groningen, the Netherlands, and Extraordinary Professor in Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South-Africa. Since 2005 his research concentrates on questions related to modern life course, gerontology, and the ethics of care. He wrote several books on the subject: De mythe van het voltooide leven [The Myth of a Completed Life], 2007; De armoede van het zwitserlevengevoel [The Shabbiness of Third Age Hedonism], 2008; and Waardigheid voor wie oud wil worden [Dignity—for who wants to grow old], 2010; In andermans handen: Over flow en grenzen in de zorg [In someone else’s hands. On flow and limits in care], 2011. As a Member in Residence of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, he published Loving Later Life: An Ethics of Aging (Eerdmans, 2015). 

Elizabeth (Els) van Wijngaarden, PhD

is Associate Professor in Care Ethics at the Universiteit Voor Humanistiek [University of Humanistic Studies], Utrecht, the Netherlands. With her PhD on ‘completed life in old age’, she was the first to explore experiences of relatively healthy older people with a strong wish for a self-directed death as they considered their lives no longer worth living. Her study was awarded the prestigious Research Prize 2017 of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. With her current research she builds on this pioneering work, focussing on death and dying in old age with a specific interest for and the role of choice and control at the end-of-life. Her other research interests include: dementia, experiences of suffering, meaning and meaninglessness at the end-of-life. 

Featured Presentations
Premiering 4 September 2020

10.30am On old age (24:03 min)

CHRIS GILLEARD, PhD, is Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences at the University of Bath and the Division of Psychiatry at University College London. He has published in the areas of psychology, medicine, history and sociology as they relate to ageing and old age. He is also a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

11.00am The compression of morbidity and biogerontology: how the yearning for Utopia became medicalised (14:55 min)

SEAMUS O'MAHONY, MD, is visiting professor at the Centre for the Humanities and Health at King’s College London. He is a gastroenterologist and general physician (retired, Cork University Hospital), and was clinical professor at University College Cork Medical School, where he taught the medical humanities, ethics, and professionalism.  He worked for many years in the NHS, and since 2001 has been based in his home city. He has been a critic of his own profession, and his books include The Way We Die Now, which  won the BMA Chairman’s Choice award in 2017, and Can Medicine Be Cured? which was published in 2019. He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review of Books and the Medical Independent; he has written also for the Observer, the Daily Mail, the Irish Times, the Irish Examiner and the Saturday Evening Post. He is a member of the Lancet Commission on “The Value of Death”.

11.15am Break

11.30am Bearing the burdens we bare: an indictment of a modern anthropology that burdens ageing persons (37:33 min)

ASHLEY MOYSE, PhD, is the McDonald Postdoctoral Fellow in Christian Ethics and Public Life, and member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford. His research labours to engage with both theological and philosophical ethics, with particular interests in philosophy of technology, bioethics, and medical humanities. He has published several books, including a recent co-edited anthology, Treating the Body in Medicine and Religion: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives (Routledge, 2019), and The art of living for the technological age: Toward a humanizing performance (Fortress, 2021).

12.15pm Age and wellbeing: ethical implications of the u-curve of happiness (15:01 min)

CHRISTOPHER WAREHAM, PhD, received his doctorate from the European School of Molecular Medicine and the University of Milan. He joined the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics in 2014, where he is currently Senior Lecturer, Head of the MSc Research Methods Unit, and Head of Undergraduate Studies in Bioethics for the Faculty of Health Sciences. He sits on the Research Ethics Committee (Non-medical) of the University of the Witwatersrand, and consults on ethical issues in biomedical science, education, and research. Christopher’s core areas of research are the Ethics of Ageing, the Ethics of Emerging Technologies, and African Bioethics. He is an NRF Rated Researcher and has previously been awarded a European School of Molecular Medicine Doctoral Fellowship, and a South African National Research Fund (NRF) Innovation Scholarship. Wareham is editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Handbook on the Ethics of Ageing. Other publications can be found in the following journals: Journal of Bioethics Inquiry; BMJ--Journal of Medical Ethics; Ethical Theory and Moral Practice; Journal of Medicine and Philosophy; and Bioethics.

12.30pm Pandemic, ageing, and agency (34:00 min)

LYDIA DUGDALE, MD, MAR (ethics), is Dorothy L. and Daniel H. Silberberg Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. She also serves as Associate Director of Clinical Ethics at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irvine Medical Center. A practicing internist, Dugdale moved to Columbia in 2019 from Yale University, where she previously served as Associate Director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics. Her scholarship focuses on end-of-life issues, medical ethics, and the doctor-patient relationship. She edited Dying in the Twenty-First Century (MIT Press, 2015) and is author of The Lost Art of Dying Well (HarperOne, 2020), a popular press book on the preparation for death. 

1.00pm Break  

Plenary Presentation

Available for viewing, 4 September 2020

2.00pm Farr A Curlin, Medicine and the Art of Dying Well  (21:08 min)

FARR A CURLIN, MD, is Josiah C Trent Professor of Medical Humanities in the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine, and the Duke Divinity School, at Duke University. Before moving to Duke in 2014, he founded and was Co-Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago. At Duke, Farr practices palliative medicine and works with colleagues in the Trent Center and the Divinity School’s Initiative on Theology, Medicine, and Culture to develop opportunities for study and scholarship at the intersection of theology, ethics and medicine. He is interested in the moral and spiritual dimensions of medical practice—particularly the doctor-patient relationship, the moral and professional formation of physicians, and practices of care for patients at the end of life.

Featured Presentations
Premiering 4 September 2020

2.30pm "Reimagining ageing in the context of living and dying" (23:38 min)

KATHERINE FROGGATT, PhD, has worked in ageing and palliative care for over 30 years, having qualified as a nurse before moving into higher education working in nursing and applied health research departments. From 2013 to 2019 she was Professor of Ageing and Palliative Care at the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University. She is currently undertaking a Grey Gap year exploring ways to develop her work in these areas.

CAROLINE NICHOLSON, PhD, RGN, FHEA, holds a chair in Palliative Care and Ageing within the School of Health Science, University of Surrey and is an Honorary Nurse Consultant at St Christopher’s Hospice London. She is a current recipient of the Health Education England/ National Institute of Health Care Research Senior Clinical Lectureship. She is the UK representative on the European Association of Palliative Care task force into ageing and co-lead on End of Life for the British Geriatric Society (BGS). 


Her research programme seeks to improve the experience of and care delivery to older people living with complex needs. She is particularly interested in the transitions that occurs in the last phase of life. Her clinical and academic practice includes sustaining and building the care workforce to meet the needs of older people living and dying overtime. She is co-editor of the BGS guidance on end of life and frailty for clinicians across the multi-disciplinary team. 

3.00pm Suffering and Response: Directions in Empirical Research (35:23 min)

TYLER J. VANDERWEELE, PhD, is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also Co-Director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality and Director of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, and, for the 2019-2020 academic year, the George Eastman Visiting Professor at Balliol College, University of Oxford. He holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and the University of Pennsylvania, in mathematics, philosophy, theology, finance and applied economics, and biostatistics. His research spans social and psychiatric epidemiology; methodology for causal inference and measurement; the science of happiness and flourishing; and the study of religion and health, including both religion and population health and the role of religion and spirituality in end-of-life care. He is the recipient of the 2017 COPSS Presidents’ Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies. He has published over three hundred papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is author of the book Explanation in Causal Inference, published by Oxford University Press. 

3.45pm Break

4.00pm Spirituality of Ageing and Integral Human Development: An Intercultural Dimension (21:34 min)

CHRISTINE LAI, DProf, is a scholar-in-practice as a Research Associate at Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology (MBIT) at Cambridge, Researcher at HK Bioethics Resource Centre, guest Professor at Hong Kong Holy Spirit Seminary College of Theology, Supervisor of DProf at Anglia Ruskin University, Spiritual advisor at Caritas HK and founder of Management of Heart Consultancy. After her Doctorate of Business Administration on “Social Capital and Trust” and Professional Doctorate of Practical Theology on “Midlife transformation of Christian professionals in HK, evolving a spiritual practice model”, she is now researching on “Spirituality of Integral Human Development for ageing: an intercultural approach”. Dr. Lai has been advocating holistic wellness through “Life planning and everyday spirituality” lectures and “From Midlife to Ageing: ultimate meanings of life in the days of the Pandemics” article. Recently, she has co-organized for MBIT the first international webinar on “In search of Meaning and Fulfillment through Interreligious Dialogue and Interculturation: Vatican Council II, Pope Francis and Beyond”. She is also the founding member and Vice-Chairman (International) of Asia Academy of Practical Theology (AAPT). 

4.30pm Pursuing Success and Spirituality in Ageing (32:03min)

MICHAEL MAWSON, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Ethics and Research Fellow at the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre at Charles Sturt University, Australia.  He was previously Senior Lecturer in Theological Ethics at the University of Aberdeen.  He is the author of Christ Existing as Community: Bonhoeffer’s Ecclesiology (OUP, 2018) and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (OUP, 2019).  He is currently working on a new book on theology, phenomenology and ageing.

5.15pm Elderhood and Sabbath Rest as Vocation (33:07 min)

AUTUMN ALCOTT RIDENOUR, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious and Theological Studies at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. Her primary interests are in the areas of theological, philosophical, social, and bioethics, with attention to history and systematic theology. She is the author of Sabbath Rest as Vocation: Aging Towards Death (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018) and has published articles in Christian Bioethics, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, The Hastings Center Report and several book chapters for edited volumes. Her current research project surrounds the interface of smartphones, devices, and the theological significance of presence within relationships. 

6.00pm Death and life: the crafting of Christian resources for living well in the light of mortality" (25:51 min)

JOANNA COLLICUTT, PhD, is Karl Jaspers Lecturer in Psychology and Spirituality, Ripon College Cuddesdon – an Anglican Seminary and lectures in psychology of religion at Oxford University. She was also Older People’s Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford from 2010-2019, and it is in this capacity that she developed materials for a modern Ars Moriendi under the title ‘Death and life: Christian resources for living well in the light of mortality’. Joanna is a chartered clinical psychologist and registered specialist neuro-psychologist. Her most recent books are The psychology of Christian character formation (SCM, 2015), Being mindful being Christian (Monarch, 2016), Thinking of you: A theological and practical resource for the spiritual care of people with dementia (BRF, 2017), When you pray (BRF, 2019), Seriously Messy (BRF, 2019), and Neurology and religion (CUP, 2019). 


All videos presented for this virtual conference event are hosted on the McDonald Centre YouTube channel.