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Theme for 2021-22

Symposium 2021-22 Theme: Aging

For Academic year 2021-22, the theme for the Symposium will be “Aging.” Aging is a universal condition, and the way it manifests biologically, socially, culturally, ethically, and technically merits consideration from an interdisciplinary perspective. Any singular disciplinary field cannot capture the breadth of aging as lived experience or object of study. Across populations and to the level of the individual, aging presents opportunities and challenges that require expertise and collaboration from fields as diverse as health, medicine, design, public policy, engineering, and economics, among many others. A holistic understanding of aging will become increasingly crucial as humanity exists in an era in which life-extending medical and technical advancements are intertwined in a constellation of issues related to pressures on healthcare systems, diminishing resources, anthropogenic climate change, and shifts in socio-cultural systems. Throughout the year, the courses, co-curricular events, and research opportunities spawned by the Symposium are meant to provide an interdisciplinary lens to better understand the multifaceted nature of aging

Courses

Rethinking Healthy Aging through Public Policy and Healthcare Innovation

According to the World Health Organization healthy aging is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. The decisions we make and activities we participate in now can impact wellbeing in older age. This seminar course will develop students understanding of the factors impacting healthy aging including ageism, sociodemographic disparities, physical changes, caregiving, wellness, financial security, environment, housing, and public policy. Students will also learn how to enhance their own personal healthy aging. The course will be co-taught by interdisciplinary faculty who have expertise in gerontology from a nursing and public policy lens. Weekly guest speakers will include experts in the field and will share their experiences promoting facets of healthy aging at the local, state, and national level.

Writers Room Lab

This Community-Based Learning course is open to Drexel students and our neighbors. A single-credit laboratory, it attaches to courses with projects engaging in civic action and allows motivated students more time to integrate the knowledge from an academic class with community work. In collaboration with the Pennoni Honors College’s year-long Symposium on Aging, our Fall 2021 Lab will focus on cross-disciplinary artistic work to explore memories and meanings of home and life stages. We will avail ourselves of the collaborative opportunities that come with working with a multigenerational group of writers. You will also have the chance to explore your own genealogies through different genres or medium.

Aging, Aging Policy and Health in Asia

This course explores global patterns in aging, and specifically in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The course addresses demographic patterns and the epidemiologic transition, the link between fertility and aging patterns, long-term care a support systems in this part of the world. The topics of demographic patterns and health and aging policy are presented within a comparative framework with comparisons to the US health and aging policy. Additionally, a global classroom provides an opportunity for students to engage in a comparative study of the patterns of aging and aging services in both countries for those who need long-term care. Another mechanism for comparison is a discussion of ethics related to research and providing services for older persons across US and Asian contexts.

Designing Your Death Plan: Living and Aging According to Your Desires

Death and dying are topics that individuals often avoid discussing in American society, yet it is something we will all experience. Initiating dialog and expressing one’s wishes regarding future end of life decisions enables one to live life fully now. This course will facilitate discussions around end of life decisions and planning for a good death. Through discussions with guest speakers we will examine the historical, spiritual, cultural, ethical, and legal context of death, dying, and end of life decisions in order to deepen our understanding of societal views on aging and death. Avoiding discussions around end of life does not mean it will not happen, it just means that we will be ill prepared when it does.

Evolution vs. Design: Challenges in Human Aging

The course provides an overview of selected biological systems aspects of aging, such as the loss of temporal coherence and changes in sensory perception and processing, within an evolutionary context. Flaws in the natural design of humans, negatively impacting our well-being, have to be counteracted with specific healthcare measures, adaptations to our living environments, and technological designs. After introducing students to these concepts, students will form multidisciplinary teams to focus on a specific deliverable, ranging from possible biological interventions to computer simulations to possible products to enhancements within the built environment to promote healthy aging and aging in place.

Design for Aging Awareness

Description forthcoming.

Current Faculty Cohort