Fall 2020 - GERO 406 D100

Death and Dying (3)

Class Number: 6782

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 14, 2020: Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2020
    Mon, 12:00–12:00 a.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units. Recommended: GERO 300.



The focus of this course is to provide the student with an in-depth understanding of the process of dying. By examining the process of dying, one's personal response to death as well as society's reaction and responsibilities toward dying, the student will gain new insights in caring for the dying person.


A course about death is in effect, a course about life. Life expectancy and the quality of living and dying shift across historical time and geopolitical space, and our cultural values, social organization and psychological orientations to death and dying vary accordingly. The media commonly portrays and often sensationalizes stories of death and dying, and these reports shape popular opinion. In this class, students are encouraged to adopt a wide view of the topic so as to be able adopt a more critical stance that considers how death and dying might be variously encountered depending on the intersections of age with ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, stigma and cultural values. Topics of enquiry include but are not limited to advance directives and living wills, the right to die/physician-assisted suicide, palliative care and hospice, dying at home vs. an institution, life-sustaining technology and DNR orders, burial rites, the meaning of death and the afterlife, and grief and bereavement. In the sixth week of the course, up to ten Continuing Studies 55+ students join the class. This blended format provides an opportunity for all students to learn from one another’s diverse experiences in relation to course materials.


By the end of this course, the student should be able to
1.       Work collaboratively with classmates in a supportive manner that draws on each other’s strengths to solve problems.
2.       Identify and summarize key themes in the literature on death and dying as it pertains to older adults;
3.       Apply critical thinking to interpretation of assigned readings as evidenced in class discussions, mini-presentations and writing
4.       Use the evidence available to present balanced arguments with respect to controversial media coverage of death and dying issues;
5.       Demonstrate a clear understanding of the diversity of meanings and experiences associated with end-of-life by older adults in Canada.
6.       Integrate evidence on different topics in order to identify priorities for research, policy and practice in the area of death and dying.


  • o In-class pop quizzes/exercises: 10%
  • o In-class group work: 10%
  • o Poster presentation – topic 1 10-15 A%
  • o Paper outline (incl thesis statement) – topic 2 15-20 B%
  • o Pecha Kucha presentation of final story (overlap of topics 1 & 2) 15-20 C%
  • o Final story (a essay written during the exam period) 30-40 D%


The weighting of different assignments in the story-building assignment group is somewhat flexible to allow students to tailor their grading in relation to their strengths and weaknesses as well as their schedules. Students can replace the example grade distribution in red font with their own grade breakdown. The numbers you choose for each row must be within the range indicated in the previous column [grade range]. The 4 numbers for components A, B, C and D should add up to exactly 80.



None – all readings will be uploaded to Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).