Interdisciplinary Program

The gerontological studies program is a multi-disciplinary program designed to integrate research and theory about aging and old age. Prompted in part by the graying of the world’s population, humanists, scientists, social scientists, and professionals have become interested in understanding the position of the aged in society, the aging process in various contexts, the meaning of aging to individuals, and the physical changes that accompany aging. The program draws on the most recent thinking and research in a variety of disciplines to provide students with a background that will be helpful after graduation both in work and in graduate or professional school.

In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of the program, the core courses are drawn from four departments: anthropology, communication sciences, history, and sociology. Students may choose from a variety of courses according to their own interests. Most of the electives are not specifically gerontology courses but cover topics that contribute to the understanding of aging and the aged. The perspectives gained in the core courses will provide the student with the background needed to relate the material in the more general courses to gerontological issues. The program is firmly grounded in the liberal arts and thus provides the student with the challenge to think and communicate effectively and to integrate diverse information, theories, and practice.

Gerontological Studies is an appropriate major or minor for students with a wide variety of career goals. The aging of the population has made available entry-level positions for persons with baccalaureate degrees in organizations that provide services to and formulate policy for the elderly. Many graduate programs now include an emphasis on aging for which a degree in gerontological studies would serve as a useful background. Students planning to pursue professional degrees will find that an increasing number of their clients or patients will be old and that problems with which they must deal will be related to the aged. The perspective provided by participating in the Gerontological Studies Program will provide students with excellent background in working with older populations. This background is particularly important for students who plan to pursue careers in human services, business, law medicine, academics, or the sciences.


Current Areas of Research

Faculty members associated with the program are engaged in a variety of funded research projects which include studies of: Alzheimer’s disease; patterns of care for the urban elderly in China; visual perception changes that accompany aging; the impact of high levels of physical activity on the biological aging process; grandparent-grandchild relationships; and stress, coping, and adaptation among urban community and institutionalized elderly.

“Moments in the History of Gerontology”
Gerontology at Case Western Reserve University: A History of Pioneering Scholarship
Published Spring 2005 in Contemporary Gerontology