Open Courseware on Death and Dying

Do you want to learn more about aspects of death and dying, but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a college course? Take advantage of open courseware, then. These courses, offered by major universities, government entities and businesses, are courses offered online. While they offer little to no credit, they’re free and you can learn at your own pace.

The following short list of open courseware about death and dying provides some examples of what you can expect to find. The list is in alphabetical order, and we do not favor one course over another:

  • Death: This course examines a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. Are we immortal, or does life really end at death? Discussions on suicide, attitudes toward death and other issues are offered by this Yale course.
  • Health Across the Life Span: Frameworks, Contexts, and Measurements: Johns Hopkins provides many excellent courses on health, and this one is an example. This course introduces and examines the basic principles that guide growth and development and the health of individuals across the lifespan, from the prenatal period through senescence.
  • Health Issues for Aging Populations: Another course from Johns Hopkins that introduces the study of aging, its implications for individuals, families, and society, and the background for health policy related to older persons.
  • Human Growth and Development: While addressing health care professionals, the layman can learn much about various developmental tracks that follow a person from birth to death.
  • Living with Death and Dying: The Open University provides a course that explores how knowledge and beliefs about death and encounters with death affect peoples’ lives.
  • Managing Long-Term Care Services for Aging Populations: This course reviews care and service systems from the unique perspective of an aging population, including the physiological and psychological changes common among seniors.
  • Medical Terminology: While not dealing with death and dying specifically, this course can help anyone (including nurses) understand more about the terms used by those in the healthcare profession.
  • Moral and Ethical Principles in End-of-Life Care: Another Open University course that addresses issues in hospice, or palliative care.
  • Moral Problems and the Good Life: MIT offers this course, which includes readings and lecture notes. Topics include: euthanasia, gay marriage, racism and racial profiling, free speech, hunger and global inequality.
  • Transitions into Residential Care: The Open University offers this course, which considers working with people in group care and residential settings.

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