Fall 2024 Schedule of Classes and Syllabi are now available! Registration Begins Aug. 1st!

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Perspectives on Death/Dying

The course surveys current American practices with regard to the psychosocial phenomena of death and dying. Both research and experiential data are used to examine the nature of our behavioral responses to the phenomena. Attention is specifically given to ethical concerns and to providing significant resources to the student to cope with this traumatic life event.


  • Describing the practices related to death and dying within various cultures, with particular emphasis upon the United States.
  • Identifying stereotypical relationships established between aging and dying.
  • Analyzing the societal attitudes toward controversial issues, such as euthanasia, selling of organs, and organ donation list.
  • Exploring the responses of family, co-workers, and friends to a dying person.
  • Analyzing, comparing, and contrasting the psychological and philosophical foundations for dying found in the predominant literature and media of the past and present.
  • Examining the interrelationship between the process of living and dying.
  • Analyzing public policies and practices related to issues of dying.
  • Comparing and contrasting healthy and unhealthy grieving.
  • Focusing on issues of dying and grieving specific to cases of suicide.
  • Examining the relationship among selected demographics such as age, gender, religious preference, educational level and one’s expressed death anxiety.
  • Identifying sources of information for use by one’s self, professionals and the public who are addressing issues of death and dying of others.
  • Exploring areas of thanatology that require further research.
  • Identifying the different cultural and religious perspectives on the meaning of death.
  • Defining and explaining near-death experiences.
  • Identifying the list of tasks that have to be completed from the point someone dies until the funeral or the burial/cremation i.e. calling a funeral home, calling employer, calling relatives and friends, planning funeral if not pre-planned, death certificates, picking music, choosing a casket and/or method of burial, buy headstone, write obituary, etc.
  • Identifying and understanding the importance of the documents one needs to have completed early in life so one’s wishes are known as one is dying and when one dies i.e. living will, will, life insurance, pre-planned funeral, etc.
  • Analyzing information from headstones in cemeteries in order to understand that there are cultural and sociological factors and historical events that can be determined about individuals, families, and communities from different periods in history
  • Defining and explaining what people consider to be a “good death”.


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