Because our older adult population is growing at an astounding rate, it is highly likely that you will encounter older people, regardless of your chosen profession.
What is the gerontology (aging) minor?
Gerontology is an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor designed to provide students with a broad view of the aging process. It is interdisciplinary in that you will be exposed to many different topics (e.g., biology, psychology, sociology, humanities, social work) and shown how aging relates to each. Through required course work, electives in your personal area of interest, applied experiences, research opportunities and volunteer activities, you will gain a firm understanding of aging-related issues that can be applied to your major field of study.
There are two primary goals of the minor. Our first goal is to provide you with up-to-date information about older adults and aging-related issues that will supplement your professional training. A second goal centers on dispelling many of the myths about older people (no, every older person is not cranky and wishing they were 20) and to help you overcome fears about growing old. Together, the accomplishment of these goals will assist you in making future employment opportunities more lucrative and personally satisfying.
How will a gerontology (aging) minor help me in my career?
Because our older adult population is growing at an astounding rate, it is highly likely that you will encounter older people, regardless of your chosen profession. A gerontology (aging) credential can show current and/or future employers that you have what it takes to serve this group. Additionally, it is likely that you may have to deal with an important economic, political, or social issue that impacts older people. Current “hot topics” in aging include prescription drug benefits, social security, mandatory retirement ages, older workers, the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease and the mature market, to name a few. Knowledge about aging can assist you in making informed decisions about these types of issues and help you contribute to both your employer and the well being of older adults in general.
Did you know?
- Currently, 1 out of every 8 Americans is over the age of 65 years (34 million people); by 2020, 1 in 5 will be an older adult. By the time you become an older adult (the year 2040), almost 80 million Americans will be 65 years or older.
- Older adults represent an enormous economic power; hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by those over 65 years of age on everything from food and clothing to health care to luxury items.
- Older Americans also carry considerable political clout; 90% of those over 50 years are registered to vote (compared to overall national figures of 75%) and older voter turnout is more than twice that of those under 25 years of age.
- 85+ year olds are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. These individuals use more medical and social services than younger-aged older adults (65-84 years) and have special needs that only professionals with gerontology experience can provide.
Together, these facts point to the huge demand for professionals with knowledge about aging and older adults.
What are the applied opportunities I can expect in gerontology at SU?
To gain practical experience working with our older population, every gerontology (minor) student engages in an internship experience. The internship is broadly defined and every effort will be made to place you in an area that will benefit your career. For example, if you are interested in helping older adults in need, we will try to place you in a local social service agency. If your interests are more business oriented, we can set up an experience with a local business so you can learn about retirement planning, agency administration, etc. In short, we will do everything we can to give you the necessary tools you need to fulfill your personal educational goals.
In addition to the internship, the gerontology program encourages volunteer experiences with older adults in the area. You may want to visit older people in nursing homes, help solicit signatures for later-life political initiatives, deliver meals to seniors who have mobility problems, or just sit down and talk with those who visit many area senior community centers.
What are the research opportunities I can expect in gerontology at SU?
Research is important to gerontology. In comparison to other, more established, disciplines, we know relatively little about the aging process, the social needs of older adults and the impact senior-specific programing has on the lives of our older citizens. Research can help answer these questions. Students, especially those planning to attend graduate school or those who will work in social service agencies, are encouraged to take advantage of our research opportunities. Additionally, if you have an aging-related research idea you would like to explore, we will do everything we can to help you.
Who can take the gerontology (aging) minor?
The gerontology (aging) minor can benefit a diverse group of professionals. For example, those interested in working with older adults (e.g., social workers, psychologists, physicians, health services professionals); those who want to design products that can be useful to older people (e.g., financial planners, computer software/hardware engineers); or professionals concerned about issues that impact later adulthood (e.g., lawyers, political scientists, sociologists) should consider enrolling in the gerontology (aging) minor.
If you have any questions on how expertise in aging can benefit your specific major, please contact the Gerontology Office for an in-depth analysis of how our minor can help you.
What is the curriculum?
Completion of the gerontology (aging) minor requires a minimum of 18 credits. You will take one 3-credit course: Introduction to Gerontology (GRN 100), as well as a required 3-credit gerontology internship experience (GRN 301). Taking electives fulfills the remaining 12 credits of your minor requirements. These include:
- GRN 303 Gerontology Internship II
- GRN 391/491 Selected Topics in Gerontology
- ESC 200 Lifestyle Management
- ESC 250 Introduction to Kinesiology
- ESC 352 Psychology of Physical Activity
- PSY 352 Adult Development & Aging
- PSY 422 Social Psychology of Aging
- PSY 420 Health Psychology
- PSY 435 Psychopharmacology
- SOC 344 Sociology of Death
- SOC 369 Medical Sociology
- SOC 371 Social Dynamics of Aging
- SWK 351 Special Fields of Social Work: Aging
- SWK 357 Special Fields of Social Work: Health
- SWK 420 Gender Issues for Helping Professionals
- SWK 450 Social Welfare Policies & Services (For Social Work Majors only)
Selected Topics with an aging theme from any department may count towards the Gerontology Minor. Contact the Director for approval.
University requirements dictate that no more than 6 semester credit hours from your major may be applied to your minor.
Where can I get more information about aging studies at SU?
For specific program information,
Dr. Dara Bourassa