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Aging & Society


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

There are no prerequisites for this course but one 100-level and one 200-level course in the track "Health and Development" are recommended:

  • Global Histories of Health and Medicine,

  • Health Systems Mangement,

  • Social Determinants of Health, and/or

  • Medical Anthropology


Both in the Global North and in the Global South populations are rapidly aging. Lower fertility as a result of societal changes worldwide and increasing life-expectancy as a result of medical innovation, keep many people alive for long. These demographic shifts pose challenging questions to as to what long-term care systems should look like, what the role of informal care networks is and should be. Or in other words: institutions developed around aging come with values around aging and older people and these institutions in turn shape cultural and societal perceptions about aging, care and the older body. This course consists of a theory and a practical part. In the theory part you will use literature drawing on demography, anthropology, social policy and gerontology to examine policies, politics and initiatives aimed to address population aging in different settings.

In the practical component of the course, we will use a place-based education & participatory action approach to examine how these global themes resonate in The Hague. The Hague is part of the World Health Organisation’s senior friendly city network and as such an excellent case-study in understanding how global policies on aging translate into local practices. We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with The Hague ‘dreamlike neighbourhood’ project, in three local neighbourhoods in the Hague.

You will work in small groups with three dreamlike-neighbourhood groups whereby you collaboratively work with the older group members to make visible and tangible to a broader public, a particular neighbourhood issue that the group wants to work on. This creative product is one the course assignments .

You will also submit an annotated reflection portfolio which you build over the course in which you actively engage with the theoretical literature we read over the course.

Course Objectives


  • Students can analyse the relationship between the formal institutions around old age care and societal ideas about aging and care.

  • Students can critically compare and contrast articles and situate the debates in particular ideological stances on global population aging.


  • Students learn how to translate situated knowledge from individual older people to broader debates on aging.

  • Students learn how to create (creative) output that is relevant and engaging to specific publics (policy makers, general public, older participants) in the Hague.

  • Students learn to think through different generational and cultural perspectives.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This class runs as seminar which combines plenary lectures with intensive discussion about literature and place-based education sessions where students venture out into the city.

Assessment Method

  • Curl up with a Novel: 20%

  • Community project and product: 40%

  • Reflection portfolio: 40%

Reading list

  • Lamb, S. (2017) Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession. Global Perspectives. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press

  • A novel on aging, TBA

  • A selection of articles

A full reading list will be made available a week before the course commences.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Josien de Klerk,