SO332 Dying, Death, & Bereavement

for F1T 2008

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SO 332 Dying, Death, & Bereavement


F1T 2008 DL


Josephsohn, Thomas J.




B.A. University of Missouri, Columbia
M.A. University of Missouri, Columbia

Office Hours

I will answer emails Mon-Fri

Daytime Phone



Semester Dates

Aug 18 - Oct 12

Class Days




Credit Hours



Type text here
The Last Dance: Encountering Death & Dying, by L.A. DeSpelder, A.L. Strickland, McGraw-Hill Publishers, 2005, 7th Edition, ISBN#: 0-07-292096-3.

Textbooks can be purchased through the Parkville Bookstore

Additional Resources:

2. Suicide Survivor Support Links:
3. Euthanasia, Ethics & Public Policy: 
Note: Video Links regarding death customs in other cultures are inserted into course site.

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Course Description:
SO 332 Dying, Death, and Bereavement: Examines the demographic, cultural, and social psychological aspects of dying, death, and the grieving process. Topics include cultural and individual attitudes toward death, the medicalization of death, associated institutions, end of life care, the social role of funerals, and various forms of death, such as old age, and dying young, euthanasia, suicide, and genocide. 3:0:3

Educational Philosophy:
My educational philosophy is that of active learning.  I attempt to ask questions and provoke discussion that provides students with a working knowledge of a subject.  Knowing answers to questions is not enough, a student must be able to find answers and judge their quality.  I do this by emphasizing open ended questions embedded in readings and lectures that are subject to debate using the evidence at hand.

  Instructor Learning Outcomes

  1. 1. Describe individual cultural variation in attitudes and reactions toward death and grieving.
  2. 2. Describe and analyze culturally sanctioned rituals and processes associated with dying, death and bereavement.
  3. 3. Explain and evaluate the structure and functions of important institutions related to dying, death and bereavement.
  4. 4. Compare and contrast different strategies and policies associated with end of life care, premature or violent death, suicide, euthanasia and genocide.
  5. 5. Apply different theoretical perspectives to the analysis of important issues in the study of death.
  6. 6. Critically evaluate empirical research in this field and apply it to an end of life issue.
Class Assessment:
1. Weekly discussion: 50 points each week: 50x8 = 400 points

2. Weekly assignments: 50 points each week: 40x7=350 points

3. Core Assessment Project/Paper: Write a paper over a current social issue related to dying, death & bereavement - such as the situation that occurred in New Orleans when it was hit by a hurricane and then flooded.
a. Describe the issue as it is commonly framed in popular discourse.
b. Provide theoretical and research information from this course and other sources to support your information/viewpoint.
and real world examples.
c. Discuss  how this issue impacts individuals and the larger society. Explain how and why these effects are important using specific research.
d. Critically  evaluate the effectiveness of different institutions and cultural strategies for dealing with your chosen issue. Discuss intended and unintended consequences of those social and structural forms now in place.
e. Include or compare and contrast this issue if appropriate to other cultures.

This paper should be tightly focused. It should be carefully proofread and edited, contain an introductory and concluding paragraph, be clearly organized, and conform to the applicable guidelines of APA format,  including all citations and references. Minimum of 3000 words, plus any tables or figures. Submit by placing in the Assignment Dropbox for the Professor to grade. Worth 300 points.
4. Midterm Exam: 50 multiple choice questions taken from quiz questions/study questions from each chapter/week.= 150 points, taken online within the course site. No books or notes allowed.
5. Final Exam: 50 multiple choice questions taken from quiz questions/study questions from each chapter/week with 2 essay questions = 170 points


Grading Scale:

100-90% A =  1233 – 1370 points

89-80%   B =  1096-1233points

79-70%   C = 959-1096 points

69-60%   D = 822-1096 = D

59-0%     F = 821 points and lower

Late Submission of Course Materials:
If your assignments are turned in late regarding your contributions the discussion sections, or other assignments, they will not receive the maximum number of points available. Points deducted will be per day and depend upon the assignment involved. If you do not contribute to your discussion sections, you will not receive credit for it. The only way you can then get any credit for this assignment is to do all of the work yourself.

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

1. Courtesy & the "Golden Respect Rule":  Treat others as you would like to be treated - including the Professor. (unless you are a "personality disorder", and then we will have to refer you for treatment!)
2. Everyone has the right to respect regarding their own opinions, feelings if expressed appropriately, ie assertively rather than aggressively. Use "I" statements/messages rather than "you". Use "active listening". Note link to information on appropriate communication. Everyone has the right to be heard - listened to without interruption or judgment.
3. The first post for the discussion section must be made by Wednesday of that week.  Other assignments are due Sunday at midnight of each week. You will need to post in time for responding to others posting, etc
4. It can take a few days to adjust to a course site, so take some time to check out the areas and be patient with yourself and others. After exploring and reading all the information, if you still have questions please post them in the Office area so that other students can benefit from reading them. If you have a personal issue you can email the Professor within the course system. The turn around for responding is a maximum of 48 hours, except for weekends.
5. You will post/discuss study questions in the discussion posting area. A minimum of 3 in depth responses is required; "I agree", is not enough.
6. Other assignments that the entire class will participate in will be posted in the special discussion areas created for them each week. A minimum of 3 in depth responses is required also.
7. If doing an interview, remember to use "Active Listening" when asking questions. Note information regarding the interviewee.
8. It's best to do assignments in a word processing program and then cut and paste into the discussion area. This way you can save your work in case of a software problem.
9. Have a BACKUP COMPUTER located in case of problems, and do your assignments early enough to be able to seek another if you have to.  Having a computer problem is not an excuse for not doing an assignment.

Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:

Week 1: Chapter 1 - Attitudes Toward Death: A Climate of Change
              Chapter 2 -  Learning About Death: The Influence of Sociocultural Forces
               Each week: 1.  discussion questions
                                  2.  Large group (entire class) experiential activity discussion assignment posted in special area created
                                       for them.
Week 2: Chapter 3 -  Perspectives on Death: Cross Cultural & Historical
Week 3: Chapter 4  - Health Care Systems: Patients, Staff & Institutions
              Chapter 5 - Death Systems: Matters of Public Policy
Week 4: Chapter 6 - Facing Death: Living with Life-Threatening Illness
              Chapter 7 - End - Of - Life Issues & Decisions
              Midterm Exam multiple choice questions taken from self study quiz questions/discussion questions
Week 5: Chapter 8 - Survivors: Understanding the Experience of Loss
              Chapter 9 - Last Rites: Funerals & Body Disposition
Week 6: Chapter 10 - Death in the Lives of Children & Adolescents
              Chapter 11 - Death in the Lives of Adults
Week 7: Chapter 12 - Suicide
              Chapter 13 - Risks of Death in the Modern World
Week 8: Chapter 14 - Beyond Death/After Life
              Chapter 15 - The Path Ahead: Personal & Social Choices
              Final Exam: multiple choice questions taken from self study quiz questions and study questions from Chap 8 - 14.
             Core assessment due.

Academic Honesty:
Academic integrity is the foundation of the academic community. Because each student has the primary responsibility for being academically honest, students are advised to read and understand all sections of this policy relating to standards of conduct and academic life.   Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Plagiarism involves the use of quotations without quotation marks, the use of quotations without indication of the source, the use of another's idea without acknowledging the source, the submission of a paper, laboratory report, project, or class assignment (any portion of such) prepared by another person, or incorrect paraphrasing. Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 87

Attendance Policy:
Instructors are required to maintain attendance records and to report absences via the online attendance reporting system.

  1. The instructor may excuse absences for valid reasons, but missed work must be made up within the semester/term of enrollment.
  2. Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the semester/term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.
  3. In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a semester/term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of "F".
  4. A "Contract for Incomplete" will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.
  5. Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance or Veterans Administration educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the semester/term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.
  6. Report of a "F" grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for those students who are receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned in item 5 above will be reported to the appropriate agency.
ONLINE NOTE: An attendance report of "P" (present) will be recorded for students who have logged in to the Online classroom at least once during each week of the term. Recording of attendance is not equivalent to participation. Participation grades will be assigned by each instructor according to the criteria in the Grading Policy section of the syllabus.

Park University 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog Page 89-90

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:8/7/2008 9:39:47 AM