A unique interdisciplinary course has been developed and delivered at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. Death and dying; Life and Living is a third-year elective offered to students across numerous disciplines including nursing, respiratory therapy, pre-medicine, journalism, law, animal health technology, and arts. Additionally, members of the community in Kamloops have also partaken in the class such as paramedics, coroners, and counselors. As an interdisciplinary course, students in the class can truly engage and understand the perspectives of various disciplines and backgrounds of fellow students. Some of the topics offered in the curriculum comprise include funeral planning, pet loss, global grief and disasters, grief, culture, the dying process, and real-life examples provided by the instructor who has worked in end-of-life settings across the globe. Assignments include collaborative quizzes and a reflective photo essay. The reflection essays allow students to consider their personal journeys with their experiences regarding loss, grief, death, or a topic of their choice. Unlike other university curriculums, HEAL 3330 is student-driven, and student feedback molds the course concepts and content. Given the pandemic, this course was offered online which presented many challenges and opportunities. Challenges included technology or lack thereof, the inability to connect face to face in intimate sharing of stories, and the possibility of student disengagement. However, the opportunities that arose were delving into the personal lives of the instructor and students. Sharing of our homes, our families, our pets, and our fears enabled the course to be rich in a different and surprising way. Additionally, the online development of this course has the possibility to share across the globe. Over the past six years, students in Death and Dying have provided extremely positive feedback on the course content and assignments. Additionally, former students report that their awareness and their understanding of death, dying, and loss have personally and professionally had a major impact in their lives. Moreover, students state their critical thinking and relational skills are vastly improved with exposure to what may be viewed as a taboo subject. The audience will learn about an extraordinarily unique interdisciplinary course which focuses on death and dying in a post-secondary university.

Speaker: Michelle N. Borgland

Published in: World Congress on Education, 2022

  • Date of Conference: 21-23 June, 2022
  • DOI: 10.20533/WCE.2022.0002
  • Electronic ISBN: 978-1-913572-50-1
  • Conference Location: Virtual (Mississauga, Canada)