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Held at the University of Bath, the annual CDAS conference was host to experts and professionals from around the world who presented fascinating research relating to this year’s topic ‘Death and Its Futures’.

CEDAR CIC director Dr Judith Wester and myself (Kathryn Walker) presented the findings of our latest research entitled “Life Lessons: Teaching Young People about Death in Rural England”. The presentation was under the heading of innovative teaching and we were able to present the results of our dynamic study, which showed how young people have been responding to the work CEDAR CIC has been undertaking in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

The presentation was received with great interest and support and showed new and innovative ways to approach issues of communicating about death, dying and loss when working with young people.

We heard a number of distinguished scholars such as a keynote speaker Professor David Clark (University of Glasgow), who spoke about the global future of dying and his new project with the World Health Organisation mapping out palliative care initiatives around the world. Two particular speakers in the CEDAR panel session, whom I found most interesting, were Dr Duncan Sayer, archaeologist from the University of Central Lancashire, who spoke about the social impact of digging (and teaching) with the dead; and Aleksandra Kurowska-Susdorf, from the University of Gdansk who presented ‘Death education in the shade of the modern burial movements carnival’ regarding the Kashubian ritual of the ‘Empty Room’, which relates to a form of celebratory wake for the desceased.

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Overall the conference was a great display of how the topic of death is an ever increasing subject of study, debate and research worldwide for professionals in numerous fields of study, whether it be medicine, sociology, anthropology, or psychology, and will continue to be a matter which undoubtedly sees professionals agreeing that death should be a topic which needs to be talked about.

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