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Press Release - 14 September 2005

New research centre to focus on death

The UK’s first research centre devoted to the study of the social context of death, dying and loss will be launched at the University of Bath on Saturday (17 September).

The new Centre for Death and Society (CDAS) will become a national focus for research into social attitudes to death, dying, grief and bereavement.

It will also support businesses and other organisations that deal with the dead, dying or bereaved through training, workshops and research that is closely related to their areas of work.

It will also run public lectures, exhibitions and events that will help the local community find out about the latest thinking surrounding society and death.

The Centre will be launched on Saturday 17 September as part of an international conference on the social context of death, dying and disposal taking place at the University this week.

"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 Dr Glennys Howarth, Head of the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath and 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.

“There is a strong need for research-based information that can 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 focussed resource for academia, industry and wider society.”

The centre has been set up by Dr Glennys Howarth, who (with Peter Jupp) also edits Mortality the leading journal in death studies, in collaboration with Dr Tony Walter from the University of Reading and Dr Una MacConville from Dublin.

Plans are already underway to create an MSc qualification in Death and Society that will help academics looking to develop research careers in this area.

Public lecture - 21 September 2005

Professor Phyllis Silverman from Harvard and Brandeis Universities, will present the inaugural lecture for the Centre in her talk entitled, ‘On Caring: Building Partnerships and Building Community’, at a free public lecture on Wednesday 21 September 2005 at 6.30 pm, room 8 West 2.1 at the University’s Claverton Down Campus in Bath. Free tickets can be reserved from: +44 (0)1225 386852

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