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Gerontology Program

The mission of the Gerontology Program is to enhance the quality of life of older citizens through interdisciplinary education, research, and service. We accomplish this through innovative teaching and a wide array of out-of-class experiences for our students. We work hard to foster intergenerational respect and dialogue throughout the university community.

Gerontology is an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor at Shippensburg University 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. psychology, sociology, humanities, social work) and shown how aging relates to each. Through required course work, electives in your personal 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:

  1. To provide you with up-to-date information about older adults and aging related issues that will supplement your professional training.
  2. Dispelling many of the myths about older people 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.

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 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 to 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.

To gain practical experience working with our older population, every gerontology student engages in an internship experience. The internship is broadly defined and every effort will be will 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 area senior community centers.

The gerontology 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); 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 minor.

Contact the Gerontology Program Shippen Hall 325 1871 Old Main Drive ,  Shippensburg, PA 17257 Dara Bourassa, PhD, LSW Associate Professor and Director of Gerontology Phone: 717-477-1969 Fax: (717) 477-4051