Course Descriptions for Core Courses and Electives
This list includes existing courses identified by course number as well as new courses developed specifically for this program. Some of the core courses and recommended electives as they are currently taught do not focus specifically on aging (e.g., Health Policy and Politics: PPOL 642 and Health Care Economics: HESY 660). To provide relevant content, the Health and Aging Program will provide content, class meetings, and assignments relevant to aging to supplement the existing courses, for our Health and Aging students. In the future, based on resources, we may add faculty positions to teach courses specially developed for the Aging and Health Program.
AGHL-501: Theories and Perspectives in Gerontology (Saunders and tbd, 3 credits)
We now know more than ever about how to promote successful cognitive and physiological aging; so that people can be independent, fulfilled, and productive longer. This course will examine both the theory and research in social gerontology, including: (A) aging and the aged as affected by social organization, including such social institutions as (i) familial, (ii) economic, (iii) political, and (iv) health care; (B) organizational processes such as (i) social stratification; and (ii) living environments including community and housing. In these contexts, certain demographic, cross-cultural, social-psychological, and physiological aspects of aging will also be considered.
AGHL-503: Physical Dimensions of Aging (Tilan, 2 credits)
Science is generating new views of what it means to age; we know that the brain continues to be plastic and to benefit from experience throughout life, and that though genes matter, their effects can be modified by experience throughout life. This course will be a team-taught seminar exploring primary and secondary aging, genetic and environmental influences on aging and their interactions, cell senescence and death, and current and evolving areas of research.
AGHL-505: Psychology of Aging (Saunders and tbd, 2 credits)
This course will examine the nature and causes of the psychological changes that accompany human aging. Theories concerning the biological, social, and cultural influences on aging will be considered. The course will examine patterns of change and stability over the adult years. We will ask whether the changes that occur are inevitable and irreversible. Particular emphasis will be placed on the changes in mental life that accompany advancing age, both as viewed from without by observers (including researchers) and from within by aging individuals themselves (in autobiographical accounts). The course will emphasize the ways in which people compensate for the losses that come with added years (including the general slowing of mental and motor processes, and the deaths of loved ones) by taking advantage of the gains (including accumulated wisdom and perspective, and additional leisure time).
HESY-660: Health Care Economics (Friedland, 2 credits)
This course uses the principles of economics to study the allocation of resources used to provide health and long-term care. Market inadequacies and market failures that have affected the financing, organization, and delivery of care are examined. The impact of private and public insurance programs on the organization and delivery of health care are analyzed, and the relationships between politics, policies, and health care markets are explored. Basic economics principles are taught and applied to the study of health care.
AGHL-502: An Aging World (Weinstein, 2 credits)
We age individually, but populations also age. We will explore the primary cause(s) of population aging, the current state of aging in both the developed and developing worlds, and future prospects. The work will examine how population aging and socioeconomic factors interact and influence each other. Basic concepts and measures of epidemiology and demography will be introduced. The primary focus will be on health outcomes with a goal of documenting and understanding differentials attributable to socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and social support, networks, and connection.
AGHL-504: Humanities and Ethics of Aging (Miller, 2 credits)
This course we will focus on basic ethical principles including autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance, and justice as related on aging case studies. It will also discuss informed consent, capacity, competence, and confidentiality. Students will have the opportunity to work through common practice situations in real life and clinical scenarios using the ethical principles learned. Students will also develop a greater understanding of the process of critical thinking and how it facilitates problem solving in difficult ethical situations.
HESY-652: Quantitative Methods for a Learning Health System (Uberoi, 2 credits)
Modern healthcare systems are increasingly run “by the numbers.” This reflects expectations that services delivered to patients as well as delivery system changes be based on the best available evidence. And in addition to making use of existing evidence, learning health systems are using health service research methods and “delivery system science” to identify effective innovations and spread them to other provider organizations. Similarly, “dashboards” and performance measures for individual providers, hospitals, and defined populations are publicly reported and used to manage delivery systems and improve quality. To prepare executives to lead and manage a learning health system, this course draws on quantitative methods from statistics, epidemiology, and health services research. The goals are to enable students to identify and use evidence to guide practice and policy, and to introduce the basic analytical tools needed to support performance measurement for healthcare quality improvement efforts.
PPOL-501: Statistical Methods for Policy Analysis (Joe, Ladd, Schone, and Wiebe, 3 credits)
This is the first course in the three-course quantitative methods sequence. The sequence is designed to increase understanding of empirical analyses — both as a consumer of empirical analyses and as a producer of such analyses. This course introduces students to descriptive and inferential statistics often used in public policy research. The course aims to provide students with a solid foundation for analyzing data, conveying analyses in convincing and appropriate ways. Topics covered include: measures of central tendency and dispersion, probability and probability distributions, random variables, hypothesis testing and confidence intervals, statistical power, correlation, simple regression, and an introduction to multivariate regression. Students use Stata (a statistical software application) to develop their data analysis skills.
AGHL-000: Aging in Place (Saunders, 2 credits)
From boomers to the oldest old, surveys of older adults show that most want to remain as independent as possible, at home rather than in an institutional setting. And, as the Affordable Care Act shows, policy makers are increasingly recognizing the importance of community-based options as an economical and effective means of providing long-term care. This course provides an overview of the emerging issues of aging in place, the benefits and challenges, with a focus on the role of the social service practitioner. Students will gain a broad understanding and practical skills, including how to find a balance between safety and independence for the older adult in the community.
LAWJ-277: Aging and Law Seminar (Goldberg and Sabatino, 2 credits)
This seminar explores, through lecture, discussion, and problem solving, the demographics, public perceptions, special legal problems, and public policy issues affecting older persons. Subject areas include income maintenance programs (Social Security, SSI); health and long-term care benefits (Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, state and federal financing issues); retirement housing and long-term care options and regulation (continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes, home and community-based care, home equity conversion); estate and personal planning issues related to incapacity (powers of attorney, trusts, guardianship and its alternatives, elder abuse, the right to refuse life-sustaining medical treatment, bioethical dilemmas, surrogate decision making, and health care advance directives); and ethical issues in representing the elderly. The seminar is both practice- and policy-oriented and integrative with respect to other coursework and related disciplines.
AGHL-000: Cognitive Aging (tbd, 2 -3 credits)
This course is a comprehensive overview of various conceptual and methodological approaches to studying the cognitive neuroscience of aging. The course will emphasize the importance of combining information from cognitive experimental designs, epidemiologic studies, neuroimaging, and clinical neuropsychological approaches to understand individual differences in both healthy and pathological aging.
HESY-639: Financial Management I (Huang , 2 credits)
This course focuses on the principles of accounting and financial management that can be applied to contemporary health care systems. The goal of the course is to provide a theoretical and practical review of principles of healthcare and financial management. This course provides students with the tools to analyze financial statements and to use accounting information for managerial decision-making. This course will include a special session for specifically focused on aging issues as needed.
PPOL-642: Health Policy and Politics (Feder, 3 credits)
This seminar explores the policy and politics of health financing by involving students in issues related to critical debates on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and containing health care costs. The class will begin with an overview of the U.S. health financing system—its policy failings and how they came about—and the political and policy efforts to improve it through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Drawing on national expert “guests” as well as on assigned readings, we will then explore specific issues related to the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the overall issue of health care costs. Our goal will be to understand the policy choices that continue to face the nation in assuring people meaningful health insurance protection and affordable health care costs.
PPOL-644: Health Services Utilization and Cost (Mitchell, 3 credits)
In this course we will apply the basic principles of microeconomics to study the health care system with particular emphasis on providers--physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical industry, limited service providers (ASCs, imaging centers) and the long-term care industry. We will also examine the latest health care delivery reform model—accountable care organizations. Throughout the course, we will emphasize current issues and problems that exist in health care markets and how economic tools can help us gain a better understanding of these issues. We will focus on the payment system for each provider type and how the financial incentives inherent in each reimbursement structure influence provider behavior.
PPOL-643: Health Care Access Demand Issues (Schone, 3 credits)
This course provides an introduction to the fundamental issues in health economics and health services research related to health care demand. In the first part of the course, models are developed to analyze the demand for health and medical care, health production and health behaviors. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of insurance in affecting the market for medical care by analyzing employment-based insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the problems of the uninsured and underinsured. The second part of the course uses these theoretical foundations to evaluate the key health policy issues in the United States, including the Affordable Care Act. Students will read a variety of articles ranging from classic analyses in health economics and health services research to up-to-date current analyses. By the end of the course, students should be able to think critically about the key health policy issues related to health care costs and health care access.
HESY-634: Operations Management (Lightfoot, 2 credits)
This course explores the broad strategic context and resulting implications of the changing health care landscape and the critical success factors that will be required to lead health care operations in organizations that are focused on value – highest quality and service at the lowest cost. It will emphasize the importance of tools and approaches that drive higher efficiency and effectiveness and will provide practical personal reflections on the critical skills and competencies that will differentiate health care executives who are in operational leadership roles. Following an examination of the five pillars of health are operations – people, quality, service, finance and growth – the course will provide real-world insight into performance improvement and operations management approaches that have been successful in addressing waste and inefficiency in health care settings.
PPOL-671: Population Change, Prospects and Challenges (Weinstein, 3 credits)
This course is designed to provide a broad overview of the field of population studies. It will provide an introduction to basic methods of demographic analysis and explore social science perspectives on population-related issues. It explores: past and current trends in the growth of the population of the world and of selected regions; components of population change and their determinants; and the social and economic “causes and consequences” of population change.
PPOL-604: The Policy and Politics of Entitlement (Feder, 3 credits)
'Entitlements' are at the heart of ongoing debate about our nation’s fiscal future and our commitment and approach to social welfare. This course examines the policy and politics of "entitlements" -- engaging students in debates regarding how best to manage the role of the federal government in spreading risk and distributing resources. We will look not only at direct spending programs traditionally viewed as “entitlements” (including social insurance like Social Security and Medicare and social assistance like Medicaid and Food Stamps) but also at “tax expenditures” that similarly establish budgetary commitments and individual “rights” to benefits. For this broader scope of entitlements, we will explore issues that are common to entitlement programs, such as income redistribution, intergenerational equity, means-testing vs. universality, compulsory participation vs. individual choice, individual vs. social responsibility, and state vs. federal authority. The course will examine these issues (both within and across programs) through consideration of technical options for policy design and broad concepts of social justice.