From Age Friendly North Karelia to Age Friendly Europe

Raija Kuisma

The population across Europe is aging rapidly and it brings new challenges and opportunities. The proportion of older population is increasing and the number of older people, who need services will grow. However, older people continue to be a valuable asset, who can contribute positively to the different aspects of life. In an age friendly society, services, accessibility and inclusiveness are carefully considered and designed to suit all age groups including older people.  A holistic exploration of the ageing phenomenon is urgently needed in order to understand the different dimensions of the concepts and practice of age friendly society and active ageing.

Karelia leading age friendliness across Europe

Karelia University of Applied Sciences has started actively to address the issue by coordinating and leading a European wide partnership consortium whose aim is to design and offer European Masters in Active Ageing and Age Friendly Society, i.e. EMMA Master program. The consortium is formed by six universities from six European countries, namely Austria, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Slovenia and includes wide professional profile; social, nursing and health care, gerontology, physiotherapy and biomechanical and movement sciences. The consortium is developing an inter-disciplinary, future oriented master program with the aim to educate professionals from different disciplines, who can take a lead in the development of age friendly societies and active ageing in their own communities and also across Europe.

EMMAMasters is born for innovation in education

The EMMA team has worked together from last autumn and received a European, ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnership funding to develop the master program.  The work started 1st of September 2020 with Karelia leading and coordinating the programme development, in view of inviting first students to enrol in September 2023.

The EMMA Master program seeks new innovative ways to educate professionals from different backgrounds, to co-construct knowledge, find creative solutions, and address ever changing challenges and demands that older populations meet in all aspects of everyday life. The expertise of each partner contribute to the holistic approach of the knowledge and practice of age friendliness, and thereby complement and strengthen the master program development.

EMMA on-line in English

The program will be on-line and in English language so that learners from each partner country, and later from all over the world can study together to explore and create age friendly Europe and the world. The program will consist of core modules, that are essential in understanding the concepts and practices of age friendliness and healthy ageing. These are designed and provided together with all the partners focusing on the current knowledge, research and trends of European and global developments in ageing. The optional or elective modules are designed by the different partners built on their specific expertise and developments.

The on-line learning mode will use all the new technology and know-how, that the partners have already developed and are continually developing. At Karelia, we already run an on-line two-year Master program in Active Ageing, which has been used as a blueprint for this new project.

Future is age friendly

We at the Karelia are exited to start this European collaboration around a topic that is very acute in all societies, and we hope that in few years’ time we have educated a new generation of designers, developers and innovators, who are able to make the world age friendly, regardless of age.


Text: Raija Kuisma, Project Director of EMMA, Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Front page photo: Mussi Katz.