Liberal Arts and 55+ Program
Legal and Ethical Issues in End-of-Life Studies
Join us for three Saturdays as we explore a range of legal and ethical issues relating to death, dying and the end of life. These issues include the extent of the public interest in private death, and how that interest relates to laws about death and dying; legal, medical, ethical and cultural definitions and understandings of death, along with the impact of differences among those definitions; the sometimes difficult legal and ethical questions about who has the right to make end-of-life or life-ending decisions, including the withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment, non-treatment and MAiD (medical assistance in dying). We will explore laws pertaining to the dead. Who makes decisions about the dead? On what basis? We will also consider the extent and ability of the law to assist people to plan for death. To what extent should the dead be enabled, through law, to control the affairs of the living—for example, through legal vehicles such as trusts? At what point do the wishes of the dead impinge on the interests of the living? How does the law mediate that conflict?
Throughout the course we will be examining and discussing several important Canadian judicial decisions that have grappled with difficult questions related to death and dying, including Carter v. Canada, R. v. Rodriguez, Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, Bentley v. Maplewood Seniors Care Society and A.C. v. Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services). We will engage with these issues directly, using the legal and ethical principles discussed to work through hypothetical “fact patterns” from different professional, personal and philosophical perspectives.
This course will be of interest to health professionals, legal professionals, policy-makers, researchers, gerontologists, social workers, educators and anyone with an interest in the relationship between law and society, the philosophical and ethical issues underlying the law relating to death, dying and end of life, and broader end-of-life studies and issues.learn more →
About Liberal Arts and 55+ Program
A university engaged in lifelong learning
SFU's Liberal Arts and 55+ Program, which includes a variety of courses and events for adults of any age as well as daytime courses for adults 55+, is one of the largest and most successful of its kind in North America.
We've been offering courses to adults 55+ for more than 40 years—because we understand the importance of lifelong learning:
- Keeping your mind active is both enjoyable and beneficial
- Learning something new takes your mind off your worries
- Studying helps you stay connected to your world
- Education improves your memory and your health
Courses are offered in the Fall (starting September and October), Spring (starting January and February) and Summer (starting May). Registration for courses begins on a specific date three times a year. Registration for the Fall typically begins in July, Spring begins in November and Summer begins in April.
How we began
Dr. Jack Blaney was the first dean of SFU’s Continuing Studies unit and the founder of what was then called the Seniors Program in the early 1970s. Blaney was always looking for ways to encourage more people to participate in post-secondary education. With the help of a provincial grant, he launched the first academic program specifically designed for lifelong learners in North America.
“[The program] sought to enhance and support seniors’ intellectual enlightenment, rather than simply facilitating recreational activities.”
– Dr. Jack Blaney, Dean of Continuing Studies
SFU established a series of Continuing Studies courses for seniors, along with a quirky, short-lived half-hour television show called the Age of Options.
“One of the greatest needs of older adults is the challenge of an important personal goal. Such a program, the first of its kind on this continent, could serve that need and others. I think it is within SFU’s capability to mount a diploma program for older adults that, in content and methodology, would be highly rewarding both for its students and this institution.”
– Dr. Jack Blaney, Dean of Continuing Studies
In February 1975, the program offered 12 courses in a variety of subject areas, including creative writing, photography, theatre, reading and study skills, and sculpture. It was later noted that 251 people from the Lower Mainland had taken courses in that first term. With sponsorship assistance, courses continued into spring 1976, branching out into other disciplines, including music, archaeology, and psychology.
As a growing number of Greater Vancouver's municipalities began offering similar classes for older adults, it was decided that the program would focus exclusively on academic courses, and it has continued to do so to this day. Beginning in the fall 2011, courses for adults of any age began in the evenings and on Saturdays at SFU's Vancouver campus.