The Silver Tsunami: Ethical-Theological Reflections on Aging

Course Code: RGT2951HF


Fall 2016
Monday 11:00 – 13:00



Course Description

Because of advances in nutrition, hygiene and medicine, more people are living longer lives than ever before.  For individuals to live to old age was once considered a blessing; currently to have population aging of this magnitude – the “silver tsunami” – is seen as a destructive demographic development. Using a case-based approach and a combination of lectures and directed discussion, this course will explore issues associated with aging  from an ethical-theological perspective.



Topics will include: what it means to age as individuals and as populations; ageism and elder abuse; the fight against aging; institutionalization of elders; building age-friendly communities; poverty and aging; aging in a global context; a theology of aging. Students will be evaluated on  two reflection papers; one clay model and explanatory paper; written final examination; class participation.

Course Objectives

Students successfully completing this course will be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. (Not all categories will be required for all courses.)


— critical thinking skills through case work and directed discussion;
— effective communication skills through in-class discussions and assigned reflection papers;
— the ability to marshal factual information required for bioethical analysis through lectures and assigned readings;
— the ability to work collaboratively to moral and personal insight through directed in-class discussions.
(B) IN RESPECT OF THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONTENT OF ONE OR MORE THEOLOGICAL DISCIPLINES, through the readings and lectures students will develop:
— an understanding of approaches to Moral Theology and bioethical theory;
— an understanding of Catholic Church teaching on various bioethical issues;
— an understanding of historical and current intersections of Catholic Moral Theology and Bioethics
(C) IN RESPECT OF PERSONAL AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION students will have the opportunity:
— to become aware of personal assumptions and biases operative in their understandings of Moral Theology, Catholic Church teaching, and issues in Bioethics;
— to consider alternative approaches to and understandings of bioethical issues in light of Catholic Church teaching;
— to have in-depth dialogue about issues, ethical theory, Catholic Church teaching and personal moral and spiritual development in a forum that is curated and safe.
— a familiarity with current bioethical issues;
— the capacity to bring critical thinking to those issues;
— the ability to view those issues in light of Catholic Church teaching.

Course Schedule

A detailed course schedule is available for download.

Week 1

Introduction to Aging

Week 2


Week 3

The Fight Against Aging

Week 4

The Frail Elderly

Week 5

Aging in Place

Week 6

Elder-Friendly Communities

Week 7

Aging and Poverty

Week 8

Institutionalization of Elders

Week 9

The Silver Tsunami: Aging and Resource Allocation

Week 10

Presentation of Models

Week 11

Aging in a Global Context

Week 12

The Possibility of a Theology of Aging