In the near future, we will have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. Due to many factors, we are living longer than ever before with Baby Boomers serving as an introduction to what will likely be a permanent change to our society. Most freshmen starting at Washington University in St. Louis in 2014 were born in 1996, and will likely live into their 80s and 90s, with a 50 percent chance of seeing their 100th birthday for those who live until 65.
Demographic shifts in age will dramatically change the health care we receive, the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the jobs we do, and the relationships we have with family and friends. In other words, it will shape every aspect of our lives.
With support from the Office of the Provost’s third round of interdisciplinary teaching grants, faculty Brian Carpenter (psychology), Nancy Morrow-Howell (social work), and Susy Stark (occupational therapy) are launching a new course this fall that will help prepare about 50 freshman for our future as an aging society.
“When I’m 64: Transforming Your Future” (Interdisciplinary Studies 123), will introduce students to key topics about aging, bringing in faculty from within the university (e.g., business, law, medicine, public health, architecture) and professionals across the St. Louis region who are working on these issues.
They will participate in weekly lectures led by the three course instructors, as well as weekly discussion groups led by paired teams of faculty facilitators and teaching fellows. Via small group community projects facilitated by the Gephardt Institute for Public Service and the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging, students will also have an opportunity to get off campus and observe how businesses, organizations and neighborhoods are thinking about and preparing for their changing demographics.
In addition to Carpenter, Morrow-Howell, and Stark, 10 additional faculty, staff and graduate students are facilitating the course:
- Geoff Childs, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Arts & Sciences
- Christine Berg, Assistant Professor, Program in Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine
- Cheryl Wingbermuehle, Adjunct Professor, Brown School and Family Services Director, Alzheimer’s Association, St. Louis Chapter
- Jenni Harpring, Program Manager, Gephardt Institute for Public Service
- Stephanie Herbers, Center Manager, Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at the Institute for Public Health