Oswego adds minor in gerontology: study of aging

Change creates opportunity, and one of the biggest changes worldwide today is the aging of the population. Many more professionals will find employment working with elderly people, and SUNY Oswego has a new program to prepare them for their work.

The college has approved a new minor in gerontology, the study of aging. The interdisciplinary program will give students the background for careers in a variety of fields where demand is growing for knowledge and skills related to aging.

“The aging of the population is quite dramatic,” said Dr. Laura Hess Brown of the psychology department, coordinator of the new minor. The elderly slice of the United States population is projected to grow from its current 12 percent to 20 percent by 2030, she said.

In other countries, like Japan, the trend is even more pronounced. “It’s global,” she said. “Aging is becoming increasingly important all over the world.”

The minor’s core requirements, cognates and electives span 10 disciplines—human development, health sciences, philosophy, political science, anthropology, communications, counseling, public justice, psychology and sociology.

Its breadth parallels the areas in which aging raises challenges. “Housing, health care, financial planning, family care giving, the future of Social Security all are becoming front-burner topics,” Brown said.

Similarly, gerontology is relevant to many fields of study. “It’s really one of the minors that can fit into a lot of (major) programs. That’s the beauty of it. It’s very versatile,” Brown said.

Gerontology is increasingly popular in the curriculums of colleges around the nation and the world, but still not common, she noted. In the State University of New York, only two campuses offer a degree or certificate in the field. SUNY Oswego faculty members began developing the new minor program a couple of years ago, at the request of Provost Susan Coultrap-McQuin.

The new minor will be listed in the next edition of SUNY Oswego’s undergraduate catalog, but students can declare the minor now, Brown said. It incorporates one new course, “Research in Applied Gerontology,” that will be offered for the first time next fall, she said.

“We have a lot of students who are asking questions about it. It’s generated a lot of interest,” she added. “We’re definitely filling a gap, that’s for sure.”

For more information about the new gerontology minor program, contact Brown at lbrown1@oswego.edu or 312-3470.

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CONTACT: Dr. Laura Hess Brown, 312-3470

(Posted: Oct 17, 2007)