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Mississippi College
Department of Sociology and Social Work
Course Syllabus
Fall 2009
SWK/SOC- 438 – DEATH AND DYING
3 semester hours
Professor: Mary T. Johnston, LMSW
Office: 114 Jennings Hall
Office hours as posted
Phone: 925-3831 (office); 924-8987 (home)
E-mail address: [email protected]
COURSE DESCRIPTION:
An examination of the perspectives of death and dying, the treatment of the dying person, and
cross-cultural perspectives on death.
TEXT:
Understanding Dying, Death and Bereavement: Sixth Ed. Leming, Dickinson. 2007
ISBN 0534627366
Tuesdays with Morrie; Mitch Albom, Doubleday Publishing, 1997.
COURSE OBJECTIVES:
1. Provide sociological perspectives for the study of death, dying and bereavement.
2. Introduce and understanding of the dying process.
3. Assist the student in translating these processes into their professional and personal lives.
4. To encourage the student to become more aware and, if needed, more sensitive to crosscultural practices, beliefs, and perceptions of death and dying.
COURSE RATIONALE:
To provide students an elective with an opportunity for students to achieve competence in
understanding issues on death and dying by stimulating their intellectual, spiritual, social and
emotional development thus preparing them to perform successfully in professional and career
enterprises, and to utilize their skills, talents and abilities in service to God and fellow man.
METHODS OF EVALUATION:
Lectures by the professor and guest speakers, audio-visual presentations, small group activities,
group discussions, and student presentations will be used to help students learn the content
outlined in the course syllabus. Various methods of instruction are used to appeal to all types of
learning styles (visual, auditory, interactive, and kinesthetic). Small group activities and student
presentations will assist students in developing effective critical thinking and communication
skills. The class participation and grade requirements will help students develop discipline and
personal responsibility.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS:
1. Papers: (20% of final grade) Due Date: October 22.
You will write a reaction paper, NOT A SUMMARY addressing the text, Tuesday with
Morrie. Write a maximum of 4 quotes from the book and why it was significant to you.
In your reaction to these quotes should explain how it relates to your own life
experiences. This paper should be typed, double spaced and 4-6 pages long.
2. Group Project: (20% of final grade)
Students will be grouped with 3-4 students (assigned by the professor) to make a
presentation on different cultural/ethnic population groups and their perception of death
and dying.
Students will be graded on the following criteria:
*Presentation: Do not stand and read your presentation to the class. Be familiar enough
with the material to discuss it freely.
*Creativity: Visual aids are encouraged but not limited to these. Guest speakers
welcome.
*Timing: Each presentation should be no less than 30 minutes in length.
Handout: An outline of material presented should be given to each of your
classmates.
*Each student will be tested on these presentations on final exam.
The dates for the presentations will be between November 19- December 3.
3. Research Paper: (20% of final grade) Due date: November 19
Students will write a research paper, typed in 12” font, 5-7 pages, double space, APA
WRITING STYLE, on the topic that their group will be presenting in class. A
minimum of 5 resources is required, no more than 2 internet sources.
4. Mid-Term Exam: (20% of final grade) Due date: October 13.
5. Final Exam: (20% of final grade) Due date: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 11:00.
*Tests will be both objective i.e. multiple choice, T/F, etc. and subjective (discussion).
There will be reviews before the tests. Students are responsible for content in assigned
text. Additionally, students are responsible for class handouts, class discussion, class
exercises and guest speakers. Coverage of content in text will be obtained primarily from
reading, your review of your reading, questions and discussions in class with instructor
and students, and reviews.
GRADING SCALE
93 - 100 = A
85 - 92 = B
75 - 84 = C
69 - 74 = D
CLASS ATTENDANCE
Regular and punctual attendance is required of all students. In accordance with the College’s policy on
class attendance, “any student whose absences, whether excused or unexcused, exceed 25% of the class
meetings will receive a grade of “F” in the course. Therefore, in this course, any student exceeding (7)
absences will receive a grade of “F”. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain any information and/or
assignments covered during their absence from class.
ACADEMIC INTEGRITY
Refer to page 56 in the 2009-10 Mississippi College Undergraduate Catalog.
SPECIAL NOTICE:
The professor reserves the right to deviate from this syllabus at any given time.
ADDITIONAL EXPECTATIONS:
Cell Phones: The use of cell phones in class is strictly prohibited (text messaging,
talking on the phone, entering calendar dates, etc.). During class, cell phones should be
turned off or placed on silent mode.
Laptops: The use of laptops in class is only to be used for note taking. Any other use, such as,
internet, games, etc. is strictly prohibited and the student will be asked to close the computer for
the duration of class.
Make-up tests: Prior notice of a student’s absence is required if a student is going to miss any
test or the due date of any assignment. If an emergency comes up and prior notice is not able to
be given, contact with the professor needs to occur within that day of the absence. Only after the
approval of the professor will a make-up date is assigned.
ADA STATEMENT: Mississippi College students with documented disabilities that qualify
under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may apply for services with the Counseling
and Testing Center to determine eligibility for educational accommodations. Disabilities
covered by the ADA may include, but are not limited to, learning, psychiatric, physical
disabilities and /or chronic health disorder(s). Students must request accommodations each
semester they are in attendance. For names and/or further assistance go to the Counseling and
Testing Center located in Lowrey, Room 118, Telephone: 601 925-3354.
COURSE OUTLINE:
Understanding the interest in death and dying issues
-Death education
-Mortality statistics
The American experience of death
-Defining death
-The meaning of death and dying
-Attitudes toward death
-Contemplating one’s own death
Growing up with death
-Childhood
-Adolescence
-Adulthood
The Dying Process
-Death meanings
-Relating to the dying person
-Dying with dignity
Living with Dying
-Understanding and Coping with illness
-Palliative Care
-The Hospice Movement
Biomedical Issues and Euthanasia
-Organ Transplantation
-Euthanasia
Suicide
-Attitudes toward suicide
-Social factors involved in suicide
-Suicide throughout life cycle
-Rational suicide
The Business of Dying
-The business of preparing the dead
-Alternatives to the funeral
-Cemeteries
-Life Insurance
The Legal aspects of Dying
-Establishing the cause of death
-Advance Directives
-Disposition of Property
Coping With Loss
-The Bereavement Role
-The Grieving Process
-Coping with Violent Death
Diversity in Death Rituals
-Mourning Behaviors
-Customs at Death
-Death Rituals of Major Religious Groups
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