by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
This Spring Quarter I had the honor of creating and teaching a new course at my university: HLTH 341 Death & Dying. Most readers of this blog in bioethics probably work in the medical school environment. When I taught in a medical school we provided lessons and experiences in giving bad news and hospice. We may have even taught briefly on the diagnostic tools to diagnose death. In one session put on by the Palliative Care program (thanks Sandra), students met with survivors and learned about death from the family perspective and how palliative care informed that experience.
I now teach in an undergraduate (baccalaureate) program. My students are 18 to 24 years of age. Few of them have worked with patients. Few have experienced the death of a loved one. Most are searching for a personal and professional identity—figuring out who they want to be in the world. This is not a professional program where people are trained for specific jobs, but a liberal arts curriculum where we teach people to be independent thinkers and good citizens of the world.
Most undergraduate schools and universities have a course with a similar title. Sometimes the course is taught through Anthropology & Sociology and examines how people around the world hold beliefs and rituals around the end of life. Sometimes it is a Psychology course that examines human responses to death, mourning, and grief. And other times it may be a course in Philosophy or Religious Studies that looks at various belief systems, historic practices, and sacred texts that discuss the good death and what comes next.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.