Why study aging in college? Why not?


You might think the last subject on the mind of a twenty-year old college student would be the challenges facing older women in society.


photo by Beth Newcomb

Not so those enrolled in Caroline Cicero’s class at USC, Gero 435: Women and Aging.  The reasons young people study gerontology are as varied as people themselves-because they have older parents or are close with their grandparents; because they wish to build nursing homes; because they aim to study medicine; because they are curious.

The promise of a nearly guaranteed, ironclad career to be had in the ever-expanding sphere of aging services did not seem to be the primary motivation.

I attended a recent class of Dr. Cicero’s to learn more.  She is, at 46, a few years too early to be part of the baby boom.  As a professor at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology she is at the forefront of her field.  One particular focus of her work is in what she calls “Visual Gerontology,” how aging is portrayed in our culture and how that impacts our perception of our elders.

It was clear during class that her deep and abiding passion for women’s rights had kickstarted the interests of her students.  Please give a listen.

In our next episode, you’ll meet master’s students in gerontology who get to live rent-free in a nursing home–in exchange for infusing the place with their youthful vigor.