FYS-150 Death and the Meaning of Life

Instructor: Associate Professor Charles (Buz) Myers
Department: Religious Studies

Course Description:
The topic of death raises more questions than answers. What happens when a person dies? Is there an afterlife? How does one deal with the loss of a loved one? How do our funeral practices compare with those of other religions and cultures? But the topic of death also raises personal questions of life: What is the meaning and purpose of our existence? What can I accomplish in my time here? How should I treat my elders, my peers, and my juniors who will predecease or survive me? While we will all experience death, too few of us talk about death. This course intends to begin that life-long discussion by considering death from a variety of angles. We will look at death and popular music and culture, death and the medical profession, the business of death, and the psychological impact of death. We will look at how other religions and cultures view death and deal with the dead. We will also explore various types of death, from illness and disease to suicide, murder, and genocide. Presentations by outside speakers as well as field trips to a local funeral home, the Gettysburg battlefield, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., will complement the in-class discussions.