Innovation and
Education

ISSN(Online) 2524-8502

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Non-Empirical Research

Published online November 7, 2021 https://doi.org/10.1186/s42862-021-00014-y

Copyright © Innovation and Education.

Teaching death: exploring the end of life in a novel undergraduate course

David Kulp1,Lynn O’Neill2,Tammie Quest2,Susan Tamasi3,Kim Loudermilk1

Institute for the Liberal Arts, Emory University, Atlanta, USA; Woodruff Health Sciences Palliative Care Center, Emory University, Atlanta, USA; Program in Linguistics, Emory University, Atlanta, USA; Department of Biology and Institute for the Liberal Arts, Emory University, Atlanta, USA

Correspondence to:Arri Eisen

Received: August 3, 2020; Accepted: October 25, 2021

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Abstract

Western culture discourages discussion of death and dying, especially with healthy emerging adults. Yet, research shows that engaging this population in conversations about death and dying is empowering and important for young people’s decision-making around and understanding of the end of life. We show that students are indeed ill-informed on such issues but that they desire to learn more. We describe and assess a pilot undergraduate course in palliative care addressing this need, and we demonstrate its success in engaging and educating students using pedagogical approaches built to develop a social and intellectual community of trust.

Keywords: Advance care planning, Palliative care, Ethics, End-of-life, Higher education, Interdisciplinarity, Pedagogy