Maricopa Community Colleges  ASB253   20052-99999 

Official Course Description: MCCCD Approval: 12-14-2004

ASB253  2005 Spring – 2010 Fall

LEC  3.0 Credit(s)  3.0 Period(s)  3.0 Load  Acad

Death and Dying Across Cultures

Responses to death and dying in cultures around the world. Explanations for particular cultural responses to death and dying. Examples drawn from ancient and contemporary cultures.

Prerequisites: None.

Go to Competencies    Go to Outline

MCCCD Official Course Competencies:


ASB253  2005 Spring – 2010 Fall

Death and Dying Across Cultures



Identify key anthropological concepts related to culture, religion and world view. (I)


Describe death rites in diverse cultures within the United States. (II)


Gain a historical perspective of the burial perspective and funeral rites from various cultures around the world. (II)


Explain the role of the shaman and priest in sickness, healing, and aging. (III)


Identify the importance of world view and beliefs as determinants of approaches to death and dying. (IV)


Describe the legal aspects of death and ethical bias. (V)


Describe the dying process and moment of death from a cross- cultural perspective. (VI)


Explain concepts of loss, grief, and healing cross- culturally. (VII)


Describe funeral content and form cross-culturally. (VIII)


Explain concepts of death as societal regulators. (IX)

Go to Description    Go to top of Competencies

MCCCD Official Course Outline:


ASB253  2005 Spring – 2010 Fall

Death and Dying Across Cultures


I.          Death:  An Anthropological Perspective

A.        Cultural concepts

B.        Emic and etic approaches

C.        Death from an anthropological perspective

D.        Characterization of American dying, grief, funeral rites, and burial practices

II.        History of Approaches to Death

A.        Historical perspective of Western dying, grief, funeral rites, and burial practices

B.        Historical perspective of other cultures’ (e.g., Egypt, China, Greece) approaches to burial practices and funeral rites

III.       Cross Cultural Perspectives on Sickness, Healing, and Aging

A.        Shamanism: curing through spiritual means

B.        Practitioners and their worldview

C.        Shamanism: therapies in relation to worldview

D.        Examples from cultures around the world

IV.       World Views and Beliefs about the Soul as Determinants of Approaches to Death

A.        Death as a microcosm of worldview (examples from cultures around the world)

V.        Legal Aspects of Death and Their Ethical Bias

A.        Suicide: psychological, preventionist, existential, subjetivist, social, and symbolic interactionist theories

B.        Legal issues related to assisted suicide/euthanasia

C.        Worldview of suicide

D.        Profiles and causes of suicide in the Eastern vs. Western World

VI.       Worldview: The Dying Process and the Moment of Death

A.        Near-death experiences: definition

B.        Explanations of near-death experiences

C.        The soul’s journey to the afterlife: the shaman as part of the process

VII.     Loss, Grief, and Healing-Culturally

            A.        Philosophy and origins of grief

            B.        Bereavement

            C.        Mourning

D.        Healing

VIII.    Funeral Content and Form Cross-Culturally

A.        Universals in funeral content: color, music, sexuality

B.        Fertility symbols

C.        Variations in funerals as a function of worldview and concepts of death--examples from around the world

D.        The soul’s journey to the afterlife

IX.       Concepts of Death as a Regulator of Social, Political, and Demographic-Ecological Order

A.        Death, myth, warfare, and population control

B.        Death and territory

C.        Death and social-political order


Go to Description    Go to top of Competencies    Go to top of Outline