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Health, Aging & Society

Health and health care are evolving globally at a rapid pace. Meanwhile, complexity in the field is increasing. New technologies continually emerge. People can live longer. Positive cultures of aging have changed expectations in later life. At the same time, health care access is not always fair. Quality of life is not equal. Social and ethical issues continue to shift. Health problems such as mental health and addictions escalate despite new pharmaceutical interventions.

Medicine alone is not the answer.

Engaging with communities and sharing perspectives leads to real-world solutions to improve well-being. Health, Aging and Society programs equip students to approach these issues through the critical, constructive lens of the Social Sciences.

You will be exchanging ideas and innovating answers to questions such as:

  • How do changing technologies impact the way we understand and respond to health and illness?
  • How do people’s social circumstances, ranging from their income to the neighbourhood they live in, impact their health?
  • How do components of a person’s identity (including ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and others) shape a person’s health outcomes?
photo of Melissa Bennett

Melissa Bennett

B.A. Honours, Gerontology & Health Studies, McMaster University2012


Donor development officer, Hamilton/Burlington SPCA

“I very quickly felt a part of Hamilton. Professors often taught about the context of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, cultures and experiences. I gained an understanding of the city both geographically and demographically that is an asset in strategizing campaigns and stewardship efforts. I am satisfied that I am working for a great cause in a city that I love.”

Focus of Study

  • Faculty come from diverse academic backgrounds with a wide range of research interests and expertise.
  • Provides a multi-disciplinary focus on the study of aging and in-depth knowledge on a wide range of topics and issues in gerontology.
  • Community professionals are involved in the classroom, as placement supervisors and as thesis advisors.
  • Small class size allows for a high level of student-faculty interaction and fosters a “sense of community” among students in the program.
  • Experiential learning, with practical and applied components, is available in several courses.
  • Research interests of faculty who teach Gerontology courses include: old age security policies, health economics, homecare workers, and family inheritance.

Health, Aging & Society Degree Options

Beginning in 2019, apply directly to Health and Society 1. At the end of first-year, students who meet the requirements outlined below may qualify for one of the following degree options in Health, Aging & Society:

  • Honours B.A. Aging & Society 
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1BB3.
  • Honours B.A. Health & Society
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1AA3.
  • Honours B.A. Aging & Society Specialization in Mental Health & Addiction
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1BB3 and a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1CC3.
  • Honours B.A. Health & Society Specialization in Mental Health & Addiction
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1AA3 and a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1CC3.
  • Combined Honours B.A. in Aging & Society and Another Subject
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1BB3. Satisfaction of admission requirements for the Honours program in the other B.A. subject.
  • Combined Honours B.A. in Health & Society and Another Subject
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least C in HLTHAGE 1AA3. Satisfaction of admission requirements for the Honours program in the other B.A. subject.
  • B.A. Health, Aging & Society
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 3.5 and an average of at least 4.0 in HLTHAGE 1AA3 and 1BB3.

Please note that enrolment in these academic plans is limited, therefore possession of the published minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

Minors

The Department of Health, Aging & Society also offers the following Minors that can be taken alongside another degree program:

  • Minor in Health, Aging & Society
  • Minor in Mental Health & Addiction

Health, Aging & Society Program Details

Health and Society

Health and Society provides students with an interdisciplinary background in the social and cultural dimensions of health, illness and health care. This program examines the contributions of Western medicine in the Canadian context, explores other ways of understanding health and illness, and examines health and health care from an international perspective.

The broad aims of the program are:

  • To introduce questions that social scientists ask in the study of health and illness.
  • To understand some of the implications of the social and cultural study of health.
  • Illness for health services and policies.
  • To help students critically analyze and interpret health-related information, debate and representations in such contexts as: the media, public policy, community activism, literature and the arts.

Aging and Society

Aging and Society is the interdisciplinary study of aging, a fascinating and complex area of investigation that requires integration of biological, psychological, social, health and economic knowledge. Aging and Society examines issues related to an aging population and explores the meaning, experiences and context of later life and growing old.

We offer courses on topics such as:

  • social aspects of aging
  • the aging mind
  • issues in aging families
  • social and health policy for an aging society
  • aging, work, retirement and pensions
  • images of aging in literature
  • aging and health
  • the aging body
  • diversity and aging
  • aging and mental health
  • issues in long term care homes

Our graduates have been successful at finding interesting and rewarding careers in a range of fields in both the public and private sectors

Examples of career paths include:

  • Health Policy/Social Policy Research
  • Project Coordinators
  • Care Coordinators
  • Volunteer Coordinators
  • Education Coordinators (i.e. Alzheimer’s Society)
  • Marketing
  • Human Resource
  • Administration Education
  • Recreation/Activation staff in Long-term care
  • Law
  • Public Health
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medicine Chiropractic School
  • Social Work

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