Dr. Eleonora Rossi will give a flash talk at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle, Washington, February 13-16.
The ability to communicate is a ubiquitous experience for humans, from childhood to older age. Societies are increasingly multilingual and mobile, with most of the world’s population speaking more than one language and migrating/living in different countries. At the same time, most societies are aging. In the US, by 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18. While bilingualism, and second language learning have been shown to promote neural protection across the life-span and have been demonstrated to positively increase personal social networks, and decrease indexes of social isolation, a new understanding of multilingualism and multiculturalism is still lacking. In this Flash Talk, I will bring forward the transformative idea that bilingualism should be considered as an integral aspect of the human health capital. I propose that bilingualism and biculturalism should be considered as neural and social modulators under the One-Health framework which promotes cross-disciplinary views for human health. This new understanding will likely transform social norms of living in aging multilingual/multicultural societies, and will foster cross-disciplinary conversation among scientists, education professionals, industry, and policy makers towards a vision of tomorrow’s earth in which everyone can benefit from lifelong cross-linguistic and cross-cultural communication.