A record number of students will be graduating this year with a minor in gerontology from the College of Human Ecology. Twenty-four students are on track to complete the minor requirements, said associate professor Corinna Loeckenhoff, director of the program. The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research administers the gerontology minor program.
The College launched its gerontology minor in 2010 to offer students a grounding in the issues connected to an aging population. The curriculum offers a choice of more than 20 courses in a wide range of disciplines including design, psychology, human development, policy, and nutrition – all with an eye on the needs of older adults. Students from any major at Cornell University who complete the 12 required credits can earn the undergraduate gerontology minor.
“The population is rapidly aging all over the world, but especially in the U.S. Not only are Americans living longer and getting older, but older adults in the U.S. are changing,” Loeckenhoff said. The U.S. population has become more diverse in recent decades, and now the population of older adults is becoming more diverse as well.
“We need to prepare students to work in this environment,” she said. “The minor is relevant to students pursuing a wide range of careers because everyone will need to serve old adults – people who design cars, people who work in hotels, people who plan to work in the health care industry, trial lawyers who will have to consider the court testimony of older adults. In all areas of life, the greater proportion of older adults will need to be addressed.”
The minor program offers students opportunities to become involved in research projects with faculty in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, work as teaching assistants in gerontology courses, and apply for an experiential learning opportunity in Ithaca, New York City, or Washington D.C.
Before the minor was officially established, the College offered a gerontology certificate, but the minor is more meaningful because it documents the students’ experience in gerontology on their official transcript, Loeckenhoff said.
Students who are interested in gerontology often take related classes without realizing they could be pursing a minor, Loeckenhoff said.
“We want students who are interested in gerontology to learn more about our program and consider how a minor could help them in the future,” she said.