Journalists: Apply today for our online Age Boom Academy this Spring

Monday, March 8, 2021

A Training for Journalists: Call for Applicants: Apply by Friday, March 12, 2021, 5PM ET

Application information is below and at our event website:

Age Boom 2021

Applications are now open! Calling all journalists to apply for our Age Boom Academy Fellowships for the May-June virtual event. For all details, see Our RFA is below. Deadline to apply is March 12, 2021.

Over the course of four sessions in May-June 2021, the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center and the Columbia School of Journalism will host an online training for on-staff journalists known as the Age Boom Academy. The 2021 topic is "Combatting Loneliness in Aging: Toward a 21st Century Blueprint for Societal Connectedness."

If you are an on-staff journalist, apply to join this signature program co-led by Columbia faculty members Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, and Bruce Shapiro with Caitlin Hawke. A selective process identifies Fellows who will then convene with researchers for an intensive multipart online workshop to learn how to effectively translate science into accessible reporting on the complex issues of the effects of loneliness and social isolation on health and in aging.

Why loneliness? There is evidence that loneliness has been escalating substantially and has emerged as a distinctly 21st century issue because for much of the latter part of the 20th century, we designed loneliness into our society. In the U.S. in the 1970s, 11-17% of Americans of middle age and older reported being lonely; in 2010 that had risen to 40%. And today?  A majority, or three in five Americans, reported feeling lonely in 2019. With Covid-19, the rates have increased dramatically.


The causes of loneliness vary by age group, but many of the reasons in aging are socially constructed: age-segregation, ageism, disconnection both within and across generations, exacerbated by the geographic dispersion of families and the tech divide. Loneliness is a painful subjective experience that has severe health, economic, and societal consequences. Our longer lives, our changing work environments, technology all contribute to loneliness at older ages. So, what if we could design loneliness out? What would the blueprint for societal connectedness be to combat loneliness in aging? 


During the Academy, journalist Fellows will learn about the causes and envision through sources the solutions by interviewing assembled scientists and experts, participating in story clinics led by researchers and senior journalists, having their story ideas critiqued by researchers and potential sources. Speakers to include experts like: Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH; Louise Hawkley, PhD; Tom Kamber, PhD; and Becca Levy, PhD; as well as many others. The training will include story clinics and breakouts with Bruce Shapiro, trainers from Solutions Journalism, and senior press members Rodney Brooks (formerly of the Washington Post), Rich Eisenberg (NextAvenue), Chris Farrell (Marketplace), Kerry Hannon (New York Times contributor), and Carol Hymowitz (formerly of Bloomberg News).



There is no cost for accepted Fellows to attend; full FAQ and application available at

Contact: Caitlin M. Hawke, Senior Science and Strategy Officer, Columbia Aging Center [email protected].

Funded by a generous grant from the RRF Foundation on Aging with additional support from the AARP Foundation.




Age Boom 2021 "Combatting Loneliness in Aging: Toward a 21st Century Blueprint for Societal Connectedness"



The 2021 Age Boom Academy Virtual Sessions are:


Pre-Academy Video Library 

Thursday, May 6, 5:30-7pm ET  -- Framing 

Friday, May 7, 9am-noon ET -- Root Causes and Kinds of Loneliness

Monday, May 10, 9am-noon ET -- Blueprint for a Solution: Building Cohesion Back In

May 10-June 11: Supported Story Incubation (as needed)

Friday, June 11, 9am-1pm ET -- Showcasing Interventions


NB: Exact session times subject to slight changes



Apply by March 12, 2021 at: