Freshman Clusters



Cluster 80A,B,CW
Frontiers in Human Aging

Lecture Schedule:Tuesday and Thursday | 3:30 P.M. - 4:45 p.m.

Faculty:Paul Hsu | Fielding School of Public Health, Coordinator
Rita Effros | Geffen School of Medicine
Lené Levy-Storms | Luskin School of Public Affairs and Geffen School of Medicine

Librarian:Miki Goral | Powell Library

Anyone alive is aging – babies, teens, adults, and elders. As a society, we are all likely to live longer lives. How are we living longer? Why are we living longer? What does it mean to live longer lives? We will explore some possible answers to these questions, but many more will arise as human aging is an emerging frontier.

Today’s college freshman can expect to live decades longer than their ancestors. Since the aging process is both biologically influenced (beginning even before birth) and socially constructed, lifestyle and social opportunities are just as important as genes and biology, if not more so. While advances in medical technology and public health (e.g., sanitation and immunizations) have significantly increased life expectancy, our perceptions of age are still deeply rooted in culture, religion, literature, music, and film, all of which shape our views of the human life course. Thus, aging is a complex biological and social phenomenon that is best viewed through an interdisciplinary lens.

We welcome all students, regardless of major, who are interested in exploring fundamental issues that relate to living longer and more fulfilling lives. Pre-meds are particularly encouraged to register for this cluster.

Highlights of the Course

  • The only cluster where students will spend time with older adults in organizations and medical clinics throughout the diverse Los Angeles community. This “Service Learning”, which replaces several Winter quarter lectures, often impresses future employers and professional school admission committees.
  • An “Elder Interview” life review project (replaces Fall Quarter final exam).
  • Student-led debates on current policy & ethical issues related to intergenerational societies.
  • A diverse array of guest speakers, including physicians, neuroscientists and U.S. presidential appointees.
  • Course credits may be applied towards the Gerontology Interdisciplinary Minor (GIM).


© Semmick Photo

Spring Seminars – Previous seminar titles have included:

  • Role of the Immune System in Health and Longevity
  • Health Promotion: How to Live Forever or Die Trying
  • Bridging Generations: Social Support Networks, Communication, and Aging
  • Rise Up: Fight for the Rights of Older Adults
  • Genotoxicity: Balance between DNA Repair and Damage in Aging Process
  • From Cradle to Grave: Epidemiology of Age-Related Diseases

Writing II and Foundation Area General Education Credit

Upon completion of the yearlong cluster, students will fulfill the Writing II requirement and satisfy 4 GE course requirements:

  • 3 in Foundations of Society & Culture (2 in Social Analysis; 1 in Historical Analysis)
  • 1 in Foundations of Scientific Inquiry (Life Science without lab/demonstration credit)

Diversity Requirement

Upon completion of all three quarters of the cluster, students will satisfy the diversity course requirement.

Gerontology Minor

Students who have completed General Education Clusters 80A with a grade of B or better may petition to have the course applied toward the Gerontology minor core course requirement. Students who have completed General Education Clusters 80CW may petition to have the course applied toward one of the elective requirements.