Gerontological Studies


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.

New Article! 
Moments in the History of Gerontology
Gerontology at Case Western Reserve University:  A History of Pioneering Scholarship
Published Spring 2005 in Contemporary Gerontology


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.


Program Faculty

Dale Dannefer, Ph.D. (Rutgers University)
Professor and Department Chair, Sociology
Sociology of the life course and aging; theory; work & family; research methods

Gary Deimling, Ph.D. (Bowling Green State University)
Professor, Sociology
Sociology of aging; medical sociology; family sociology

Grover C. Gilmore, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)
Professor, Psychology
Perceptual development and aging; visual information processing; memory; psychophysics

Brian Gran, Ph.D. (Northwestern University)
Professor, Sociology
Sociology of law; political sociology; comparative sociology; health care policy

Eva Kahana, Ph.D. (University of Chicago)
Robson Professor of Sociology, Humanities, Medicine and Nursing
Director, Elderly Care Research Center
Sociology of aging; coping and stress in late life; institutionalization

T.J. McCallum, Ph.D. (University of Southern California)
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Chronic stress in older adults; ethnicity and caregiving; religious coping; end-of-life issues

Diana Lynn Morris, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N (Case Western Reserve University)
Associate Professor, Nursing
Aging and Mental Health; caregiver well-being; minority elder health

May L. Wykle, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN (Case Western Reserve University)
Florence Cellar Professor, Gerontological Nursing and Chair of Mental Health Nursing;
Director, University Center on Aging and Health
Health and mental health; caregiving in minority populations


Undergraduate Programs

Major The gerontological studies program offers a major that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree. However, it may be selected only as a second major, the first major being in a traditional academic department. A double major simply replaces the required minor with a second major. The total number of credit hours required for graduation remains the same.

The major consists of a minimum of 30 credits; 15 are in required courses and 15 are in approved elective courses. The required courses are:

ANTH 304, Introduction to the Anthropology of Aging (3)
COSI 345, Communication and Aging (3) 
PSCL 369, Adult Development and Aging (3) 
SOCI 369, Aging in American Society (3)
SOCI 496, Public Policy and Aging (3)

At least 15 credit hours must be earned in the approved electives listed below. This list changes from time to time as departmental offerings change. Check with the director of the gerontological studies program for current information.

ANTH 215, Health Culture, and Disease: An Introduction to Medical Anthropology (3)
ANTH 301/401, Biological Aging in Humans (3) 
ANTH 318, Death and Dying (3)
SOCI 269, Young and Old Face the Twenty-first Century (3) 
SOCI 311, Health, Illness, and Social Behavior (3)
SOCI 313, Sociology of Stress and Coping (3)
SOCI 319, Sociology of Institutional Care (3)
SOCI 370, Sociology of the Family (3)

Minor The minor consists of 15 credits, including at least two of the core courses (ANTH 304, COSI 345, SOCI 369 and PSCL 369), and any three of the approved electives or remaining core courses.

Sequence A sequence in gerontological studies consists of 9 credits in three courses chosen from among the following courses: ANTH 304, COSI 345, PSCL 369, SOCI 369 and SOCI 496.

Graduate Courses

A certificate program in Gerontological Studies is available through the University Center on Aging and Health. For specific course requirements students should consult the Center: Allen Memorial Library, Room 101. Director: May Wykle, Ph.D. R.N., F.A.A.N.

GERO 496. Public Policy and Aging (3). Overview of public policies affecting aging and impact of population aging on public policies. Contemporary policy dilemmas, policy choices for the future, and political contents of such dilemmas and choices.

GERO 498. Seminar in Gerontological Studies (3). Major hemes in gerontology. Seminar members choose a problem area, explore the relevant literature from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and develop a research project using knowledge gained through community observation and library exploration. Prerequisite: Completion of certificate hours or consent of instructor.

GERO 601. Independent Study (1-3). For non-degree students enrolled in the graduate certificate program in gerontology.