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CCOG for SOC 232 archive revision 201403

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Effective Term:
Summer 2014 through Summer 2017
Course Number:
SOC 232
Course Title:
Death and Dying: Culture and Issues
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces the institution of death in the United States. Includes a broad multicultural, interdisciplinary approach, including sociological, psychological, historical, ethical, cultural, and religious approaches to death, dying, and bereavement across the lifespan. Recommend: SOC 204, 205, or instructor permission. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

This course intensely examines the processes and cultural influences on death and dying. It is appropriate for those who have an interest in these issues, works (or desires to work) in the health care field. This course is a core course of the Gerontology Certificate/Degree Program. Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites, but it is highly recommended that students take Soc204, Soc205, or their equivalents.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students successfully completing this course will be able to do the following:
· Analyze and compare the changing social, psychological, cultural, religious, spiritual, ethical and historical changing patterns of death beliefs and traditions related to varying modes of death, across the lifespan
· Describe the physiology of death and dying, compare the effectiveness of the medical model of dying and palliative model of dying on end of life care from an individual, family, and cultural perspective, and assess the impact of legalities and legal instruments on end of life decision making for individuals and families from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.
· Explore individual and family grief and bereavement issues through an understanding of theories, models of coping, spiritual, religious, and cultural beliefs, and end of life practices and institutions, including care facilities, burial practices ,funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries.

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

Course Activities and Design

This course involves a variety of both in class, and out of class activities including writing your own obituary and hearing from presenters of various faiths and backgrounds.

Competencies and skills:

·         Apply the sociological perspective to the group nature of human life and death

·         Know treatment options available to those with life-threatening illness

·         Awareness of care options available to the dying(i.e., hospital, nursing home, hospice)

·         Development of the ability to listen and empathize with diverse perspectives and experiences as the pertain to the varied ways in which peoples address death and corresponding funerary ritual. 

·         Awareness of any coping mechanisms relating to grief-work.

·         A general understanding of what is “normal” for a survivor to experience when a loved one dies

·         Awareness of laws as the apply to funerary options and rituals

·         Ability to define trends that distance us from the certainty of death

·         Develop and practice active compassion in the care of and participation with the dying in society.

·         Knowledge of a range of support groups available to both the dying and their survivors.

·         Grasping a greater sense of one’s mortality and , hence, living more competently.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Students will demonstrate the learning outcomes by these tasks conducted individually and in cooperation with other students:

·         Short position papers on specific concepts, themes and issues.

·         Term or research papers

·         Oral presentations

·         Individual and group research, analysis and presentation of projects

·         Class attendance and participation

·         Service learning tasks involving service to the community

·         Student-instructor conferences and portfolio evaluation

·         Video projects

·         Oral histories and interview

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts, themes, and issues
The course focuses on concepts, themes, and issues related to health, longevity, and healthcare; care of elders; dying, death, and bereavement, the economics of aging; inequalities and aging; welfare state policies related to the aged; and the politics of aging, including social policy issues and social movements. These issues are approached from a multicultural perspective with sensitivity and attention to diverse groups and societies. Other concepts, themes, and issues in the field of gerontology are examined according to student interest.
Competencies and Skills
Some of the skills students will develop include:

1.      Changing attitudes toward death and factors responsible for this change

2.      Diversity within and between cultures regarding the what, how and why of death and dying

3.      How we learn about death through socialization

4.      Health care options for the dying

5.      Issues pertinent to surviving life threatening illness

6.      The nature of funerary  ritual in the social context and issues relating to body disposition

7.      Theory and techniques for coping with loss as a survivor.

8.      The varied ways in which differing age groups will experience and define death

9.      Medical ethics including the “right to die”

10.  Legal Issues pertaining to death

11.  Life and Death in a risk-taking society

12.  Suicide

13.  Survey of differing theological approaches regarding life after death, including near death experiences.

Approved Texts:
The SACC and the Gerontology Program must approve required texts used in this course. The current approved text is

DeSpelder and Strickland, The Last Dance, (7th ed., 2004) McGraw Hill.

Supplemental Texts and Materials:

            Instructor discretion

Instructional Delivery Mode:
This course is approved for classroom, hybrid, and distance modalities.