Course number: Psychology 102
Term: Winter 2014
Instructor(s): Laura Carstensen, Thomas Rando

Course Description: Challenges to and solutions for the young from increased human life expectancy: health care, financial markets, families, work, and politics. Guest lectures from engineers, economists, geneticists, and physiologists.

In this course students will learn about the implications of longer lives for themselves and for societies. All sorts of myths and misconceptions surround the aging process and societal implications are often blurred by political grandstanding. The objective of the course is to provide students with an informed grasp of the conceptual issues, empirical findings and current controversies in the field. By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, Rando — a neurologist and biogerontologist — and Carstensen — a psychologist and life-span developmentalist — will help students understand new challenges to health care, financial markets, families, work, and politics. We have three central aims of the course. First, we want students to understand why the population is aging from a biological/biomedical perspective and, relatedly, what we can expect in the coming decades. We will explore issues like whether or not current trends will continue, how long future generations can expect to live and how lifestyles, families and work are likely to change. Second, we want students to gain a more realistic vision of their own futures so they can make more informed life choices and plan accordingly. Third, we want to educate future generations of citizens, viz, Stanford students, who will live out their lives in societies where older people outnumber children and who will have a central hand in shaping the consequences of these unprecedented changes.