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CCOG for SOC 223 Winter 2024

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Course Number:
SOC 223
Course Title:
Sociology of the Life Course
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Explores the diverse ways in which aging manifests and is experienced at individual, familial, community, societal and population levels through the life course perspective and bio-psycho-social framework. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Explores the influence of social structures and culture and the impact of public policy on the aging process. Core course of the Gerontology AAS Degree, and required for the Advocacy, Activity Professional, Advanced Behavioral & Cognitive Care, End of Life Care & Support, and Therapeutic Horticulture Activity Specialist Certificates. Recommended: Introductory Sociology course.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Explain individual and population aging using the life course perspective and the bio-psycho-social framework.
  2. Describe how an individual’s life experiences relate to social structures and cultures, specifically through the intersection of age with race, class, gender, sexuality and abilities using the gerontological imagination.
  3. Explain the influence of public policies, programs and practices on the aging process and quality of life using social research.
  4. Explain social inequality and systems of power and their impact on individuals, families, communities and societies.
  5. Create a Life Stories Project that explains people’s life chances and quality of life.

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.

General education philosophy statement

Social gerontology offers unique perspectives that help us understand how our lives across the life course and generations are connected to each other and the larger society. Social gerontologists use social research to study how societies are organized, why they change, and the different ways that social forces impact people’s lives. Social gerontological perspectives allow us to understand micro and macro dynamics, through the power of social contexts, with varying structures, cultures, and groups shaping our opportunities, attitudes, behaviors, and identities and the broader social world.

Aspirational Goals

Students will embrace the life course perspective as a way to understand their own lives and the lives of other persons across the lifespan, will come to terms with how they are aged by culture, will join the campaign to end ageism, and will enjoy rich, creative, and engaged lives to the end of their days!

Course Activities and Design

This course is offered in an online format, with optional live-streamed and recorded class meetings, including on-campus attendance when possible. The capstone project is the Life Stories Project, which students work on throughout the term in assignments and discussions. At least 12 hours of community-based learning is required, which can usually be achieved through the interviews and interactions related to the Life Stories Project, remotely or in-person. Self-reflection on one's own aging process in integrated throughout the term. See Outcomes Assessment Strategies for more details.

The course includes the following 10 Learning Modules:

1. Introduction to Social Gerontology and Aging Studies

2. Age identity and Age Theories

3. The Life Course

4. The Biology of Aging

5. The Psychology of Aging

6. Family and Social Supports

7. The New Aging

8. Demography of Aging

9. Age History and Age Policy

10. Life Stories

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Students will demonstrate these learning outcomes by these tasks conducted individually and in collaboration with other students:
1. Participate in a community-based learning project with older persons, virtually or in-person when possible.
2. Complete reflection, concept exploration, and critical thinking discussions and assignments.
3. Develop the capstone assignment, the Life Stories Project, demonstrating their achievement of the course learning outcomes.
4. Apply learning to creative responses to social problems or issues related to aging, for the benefit of individuals and groups, across the life span, through assignments and discussions.
5. Students enrolled in a Gerontology Certificate or Degree Program will complete e-portfolio entries related to their knowledge, skills, and work/volunteer experience.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts, themes, and issues
Students should understand and be able to apply major concepts, themes, and issues in the following areas:
1. Social gerontology and aging studies
2. Age, aging, ageism
3. Cohorts and generations
4. Life-course framework, including adult development, trajectories and transitions, and social roles.
5. Demography of aging
6. Multicultural perspectives of older persons and aging, in diverse cultures and societies.
7. Micro-theories of aging, including disengagement, activity, continuity, subculture, exchange, and social construction
8. Macro-theories of aging, including modernization, age stratification, cumulative disadvantage, systems of inequality and power, and feminist
9. Historical Perspectives on Aging
10. Theories of biological aging and research on the aging body and sensory aging
11. Aging and cognitive change, mental health, personality and adaptation
12. Adult development & life course transitions
13. Social support systems for older persons, including the family, friends, religion, intimacy and sexuality.
14. Work and retirement

Competencies and Skills
Students should be able to:
1. Interpret and apply research on aging, including qualitative and quantitative, cross-sectional and longitudinal
2. Develop and practice research, analysis, and reporting skills, including interviews, observation, life histories, and policy related.
3. Use sociological theories and multi-disciplinary perspectives, through the lens of the life course perspective, to illuminate the aging process and the social consequences of that process, for individuals and populations.
4. Analyze how the life course of diverse populations is influenced by social structural and cultural factors, particularly through the intersection of age with race, social class, and gender.
5. Use sociological knowledge to plan and implement social change strategies related to aging and the life course within social institutions and through social movements.
6. Demonstrate this knowledge in written and oral form, individually and in interaction with others.

Course Text
The Gerontology SAC must approve required texts used in this course. The current approved text is the latest edition of Moody and Sasser's, Aging: Concepts and Controversies. 
This text is also used for Soc 230. Extensive online resources are integrated into the 10 Course Learning Modules.

Instructional Delivery Mode

This course has been approved for classroom, hybrid, remote, and distance modalities. It is currently taught online, with some optional live-streamed and recorded meetings, accommodating on-campus attendance when possible.