Growing Old in America: Diversity Issues

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SOC 233

       Course Name: Growing Old in America: Diversity Issues

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines aging within multicultural society. Content includes effects of race, class, sex, physical and cognitive ability on aging among diverse populations in America; cultural expectations about and difficulties of aging; and impact of diversity issues among elderly on public policy decisions and implementation.

IV.   Learning Objectives

Students will examine:

  1. American ideals and values in relation to aging based on race, class, sex, and ability.
  2. the historical perspective of aging among cultures and within social institutions.
  3. societal factors that affect successful aging in a multicultural, multiracial society.
  4. public policy related to the elderly.
  5. current aging legislation and its implication for delivery of services.
  6. the economics of aging and diversity.
  7. the impact of cultural diversity on the older adult in the 21st century.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Rethinking Aging in America
  2. The Realities of Growing Old in a Multicultural and Multiracial Society
  3. Recognizing a Multicultural Aging Society
    1. Current statistics
    2. Historical perspective
    3. Future trends
  4. Addressing Social Values in the "New Aging"
    1. Dimensions of race and ethnicity as it affects aging
    2. Dimensions of social class as it affects aging
    3. Dimensions of gender as it affects aging
    4. The disabled and aging
    5. Different cultural expectations of and barriers to aging
      1. African-American
      2. Hispanic
      3. Asian
  5. Understanding the Present
    1. Examining diversity in social institutions
    2. Analyzing public policy for the aged
      1. Social Security
      2. Medicare/Medicaid
      3. The Older Americans Act
  6. How Diversity Will Shape the Realities of Aging in the 21st Century
  7. Special Topics
    1. Intergenerational equity
    2. Longevity
    3. Mental health
    4. Care-giving

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Methods include lecture, discussion, collaborative assignments, interviews, and case studies that promote students to think critically about aging and diversity issues.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students will be expected to attend class regularly, to collaborate with fellow students on class projects, and to contribute to class discussions; in addition, students will be asked to speak and listen in a manner which respects the different perspectives that occur when discussing a multicultural and multiracial society.  Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Cavanaugh, John C. (2002).  Adult Development and Aging (4th ed.).  Stanford, CT:  International Thomson Publishing.

Cockerham, William C. (1998).  This Aging Society (2nd ed.)Upper Saddle River, NJ:  Prentice Hall.

Torres-Gil, Fernando M. (1992).  The New Aging:  Politics and Change in America.  Westport, CT:  Westport, CT:  Auburn House Publishing.

Readings from:
Standford, E. Pencil and Torres-Gil, Fernando M.  Diversity: New Approaches to Ethnic Minority Aging.  Amityville, NY:  Baywood Publishing Company.

Additional readings from journals, magazines, newspapers, and public documents will be assigned as appropriate.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

  1. Tests
  2. Assignments
  3. Journal
  4. Presentation
  5. Discussion

XI.   Other Course Information


Class policy on make-up exams, late assignments, etc.

Important dates

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.