Wisdom & Ageing at Design Age Institute

By This Age Thing

On 17 August 2023, the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Design Age Institute proudly presented Design.Wisdom, a webinar exploring the relationship between design, wisdom and ageing.

The panel consisted of Dr. Dilip Jeste, the acclaimed author of “Wiser: The Scientific Roots of Wisdom, Compassion, and What Makes Us Good“, Colum Lowe, Director of Design Age Institute, and Carly Dickson, Knowledge Exchange Fellow at Design Age Institute. At the forefront of the discussion was an exploration of the role design can play in supporting the exchange of wisdom between people of different ages and whether this could simultaneously contribute to combating loneliness, ageism, and generational divides.

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Central to Dr Dilip Jeste’s work is the importance of exchange of wisdom in a community:

Practically, every one of us is stronger in some components of wisdom and weaker in others. For example, a person may have a high level of compassion but a low degree of decisiveness – or vice versa. Regular exchange of wisdom helps each of us to help and teach others to increase their levels of the components in which we are stronger than them, while we learn and are helped by others in improving the components in which we are weaker than them. Indeed, sharing wisdom with others is an important component of wisdom. How can a person be wise if they don’t share their wisdom with others? Likewise, how can we become wiser if we are not open to receiving wise perspectives from others?

This relationship is most apparent when one also considers the ties between wisdom and loneliness:

Numerous cross-sectional studies have shown that wisdom, especially its compassion component, is inversely correlated with loneliness. Furthermore, a longitudinal study found that people with higher levels of wisdom, particularly compassion, were less likely to feel lonely 5 to 7 years later compared to those who with lower levels of wisdom/compassion at baseline. Moreover, this negative association is not just behavioral. We have found a similar contrast in EEG activity and gut microbiome in relationship to wisdom/compassion versus loneliness. Wisdom should be considered an antidote or a vaccine for the loneliness pandemic.

You can view the full webinar here:

View Dr. Dilip Jeste’s  Ted Talk on ageing & wisdom here:


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