I’m ridiculously pleased to announce that I have been appointed Program Convenor of the new End of Life Studies Degree Program starting in January 2021 (MSc/PgDip/PgCert).
As many of you will be aware, for the last three years I have had the distinct privilege of being a research fellow with the End of Life Studies Group, studying subjects such as hospital care, total pain, and death doulas. I am deeply grateful to Professor David Clark for his support which enabled me to join the University, and his recent retirement marks a significant change for our Group. Part of his legacy has been the development of this new degree program.
A critical aspect of program development has been our free 3-week online course “End of Life Care: Challenges and Innovations”, which to date has had 7,500 enrolled learners. Last week we learned that it has been named in the top online courses of all time by Class Central. The next session of this starts October 5th – I encourage you to enroll and/or share the link with others who might be interested. I also encourage you to let us know about your experience of taking the course.
It is perhaps no surprise that I believe that inquiry and exploration into the end of life, both human and non-human, is of critical importance. As I move into a role that emphasizes teaching as much as research, I have been reflecting on teaching about end of life issues, particularly during a global moment where many of us are experiencing challenging ‘endings’ – such as the expectation that we (or those we love) will die at the end of a long life well lived. I’ve also, like others, been contemplating species extinction and environmental ecosystem collapse. Many of us are also grieving the loss of our previous certainty that our knowledge practices and organizational structures will inherently ‘innovate’ our way out of these – and other – endings.
Endings, including the end of life, are liminal spaces – periods of ‘between-ness’, ambiguity, and transition. We need both individual capacity and collective support in order to navigate endings, create new ways of doing things, and the ability to see the continuity between them. As convenor of the new End of Life Studies Program, I aim to create a unique social science program to advance individual student’s capacity to critically engage with contemporary end of life issues within local, national and global contexts. At the same time, the larger End of Life Studies Group – including PhD students, lecturers, and researchers – are also involved in developing the program as a collective space to examine taken-for-granted assumptions about the meaning, values, and practices that shape the end of life in this time of radical change and transitions. Together we look forward to welcoming, challenging, and learning from our first cohort, and I will be mapping this journey through regular updates about the Program as it launches.
I am enormously grateful to have the opportunity to develop a new program about the end of life during this particularly pertinent historical moment, to be working with such a fine community of scholars, and to be in collaboration with Dr Naomi Richards as the new Director of the End of Life Studies Group.
Please be in touch if you have any questions or would like to have further discussion about the program, or about any aspect of the End of Life Studies Group.
Dr Marian Krawczyk, Program Convenor
End of Life Studies (MSc/PgDip/PgCert)