SUMMER 2020 - Death and Dying

Deborah T. Gold
LS 780-57
Summer 2020
Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 PM
*Being taught on-line
Begins *Monday, May 11 - Ends Monday, July 20 (no class on May 25)

The purpose of this course is to better understand the processes and outcomes of death and dying. The US and other developed countries have become death phobic and have avoided interactions around death and dying. Both death and dying are culturally bound and strongly influenced by religious beliefs, we will take a interdisciplinary approach to our examination of these phenomena (including sociological, psychological, religious, biomedical, and social psychological). This will help us better understand how and where people die, multiple beliefs about life after death, and what drives the American population to experience anxiety and fear about death and dying more than any other culture in the world.


The course includes an overview of the biological process of dying and biomedical definitions of death, the social and psychological aspects of death and dying in modern American culture, death and dying as multicultural phenomena, the clinical issues around death and dying, and the management of those issues in an aging society.


Requirements include four short response papers, an oral presentation, and a final research paper.

About Deborah T. Gold
Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Sociology, Psychology & Neuroscience

Deborah T. Gold is Professor of Medical Sociology in the Departments of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Sociology, and Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University Medical Center, where she is also a Senior Fellow of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Professor Gold received her B.A. in English and Latin from the University of Illinois, her M.Ed. in Reading from National Louis University, and her Ph.D. in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University. Her primary research interests are in the psychological and social consequences of chronic disease in the elderly.  She has done seminal research on osteoporosis and its impact on quality of life.  She has also studied the psychosocial impact of breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease, syncope, head and neck cancer, Paget’s disease of bone, and dementia in older adults. Her current research examines compliance and persistence with medications for older adults with chronic illnesses.