GLPH 385 Biohacking and Gerontechnology
GLPH 385, Biohacking and Gerontechology, examines technologies that are in use/evolving in the aging support and anti-aging arsenal, including gerontechnology and anti-aging technologies. Gerontechnology is the intersection between gerontology and technology and is utilized for entertainment, communication, and employment as well as to maintain physical and mental health, self-esteem and well-being, as well as to support aging in place, transportation, and the accomplishment of work and leisure activities, among other things.
Anti-aging technology, a subset of gerontechnology, includes innovations like stem cell therapy, gene therapy and gene editing, and cybernetics (e.g. cochlear implants, artificial retinas, prosthetic limbs). On the cutting edge of the technology of aging is nanotechnology, cell regeneration, and whole brain emulation. Technological devices also assist older adults to age in place, by monitoring health, supporting social connection, and providing activities for leisure time.
This course introduces and encourages the use of a global perspective to critically analyze technology developed to support/biohack human aging ranging from basic gerontechnologies that are currently in use to support older adults aging in place to cutting edge anti-aging technology.
Minimum 3rd year (Level 3) standing, or permission from the instructor.
Teaching strategies for the online format will include provided online modules, group discussions, and assignment submissions via the Learning Management System (LMS).
After completing GLPH 385, students will be able to:
- Identify the current and future biohacking and gerontechnology tools to understand how they might help or hinder the experience of aging globally
- Identify ethical concerns associated with biohacking and gerontechnology to analyze how these ethical concerns impact older adults and whether they are different depending on geography, culture, or social determinants of health (SDH)
- Analyze the impact of biohacking and/or gerontechnology from the perspective of older adults, caregivers and/or medical professionals
- Examine consumer needs and critique the business/capitalist drivers behind the creation of biohacking and/or gerontechnology tools and techniques
- Build communication skills and engage in knowledge dissemination using blogging, streaming, and presentation skills as well as through the design of an infographic in order to become a better scholar and communicator
- Critically analyze anti-aging and gerontechnology tools and techniques in order to develop scholarship by evaluating uses, strengths and risks associated with gerontechnology and/or biohacking in both standard and novel situations
- Communicator (Assessments 2-5.1)
- Advocate (Assessments 2-4)
- Leader (Assessments 2-4)
- Scholar (Assessments 1-5)
- Professional (Assessments 2-4)
- Collaborator (Assessments 2)
- Content Expert (Assessments 1-5)
Assessment 1 – Quizzes (16%)
There will be two quizzes (worth 8% each, for a total of 16% of the final grade) in the first half of the term to ensure comprehension of the material covered in the modules. These quizzes will consist of multiple choice questions and will test the students’ knowledge of the biohacking and gerontechnology tools and techniques available in various locations globally and the circumstances in which they are applied.
Assessment 2 – Active learning (problem focused) group assignments (24%)
Students will complete three group assignments throughout the semester (worth 8% each, for a total of 24% of the final grade). These assignments will address problems and ethical concerns about a topic in the field of biohacking and gerontechnology using different mediums, and include an analysis of whether these ethical concerns differ depending on geography, culture, and/or social determinants of health. The assignment deliverables will be a form of knowledge dissemination, such as a blog post, video, or popular press article. Student evaluation will be done with a rubric that will include the level of their participation in their online group assignments – including participation in discussions/chats for planning and assignment development - as demonstrated by peer evaluation tools. Students who are uncomfortable speaking publicly or are otherwise constrained in their ability to participate in the group discussions should talk to the course instructor to identify an alternative method of participation and reflection that would complement their participation in the online group assignments/discussions. Otherwise, participation in group assignments is mandatory.
Assessment 3 – Online Advocacy Presentation (25%)
Students will work through an interactive case study in order to recommend a piece of biohacking and/or gerontechnology for a patient. Taking the position of advocate, students will choose a type of biohacking/gerontechnology and develop a narrated presentation to persuade the patient and healthcare team that this technology is the best option. The presentation should compare the perspectives of older adults, caregivers, and/or medical professionals. Within the presentation, students are expected to explain whether this perspective differs depending on location, culture, social determinants of health including socioeconomic status (SES). These presentations will be uploaded and made available to all students.
Assessment 4 – Infographic (15%)
Students will create an infographic that informs the public about a form of biohacking/gerontechnology – giving both the benefits and risks. Prior to developing the infographic, students must investigate the consumer needs associated with gerontechnology/biohacking (what problem is this tech solving/addressing) and the business/capitalist drivers for this technology as well as the legal/ethical concerns associated with this biohacking and/or gerontechnology tool/technique. Students must target their infographic to a particular culture or subculture at a particular place and time. Students will also submit an infographic and a one-page summary describing the consumer needs that were identified, the ways in which these needs are being developed/targeted by manufacturers and the legal and/or ethical issues associated with the technology.
Assessment 5 – Final Course Assessment (20%)
For the final course assignment, students have the option to choose to do an essay OR a final exam.
Option 1: Analytical Paper
Students will develop an analysis of biohacking and Gerontechnology utilization comparing the perspectives of older adults, caregivers and/or medical professionals; does this differ depending on location, culture, social determinants of health including SES. Papers should be 2000 words in length. Students will share a brief summary of their philosophy of practice in their online group discussions during the last two weeks of the course.
Option 2: Final Exam
The final exam will include multiple choice and short answer questions that will test the students overall understanding and application of course material, including identify the biohacking and gerontechnology tools and techniques available in various locations globally and the circumstances in which they are applied, ethical issues, and other topics considered in the course.
Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a week in study, practice and online activity for GLPH 385. This includes approximately 3 hours per week doing group assignments or preparing for a quiz, 3 hours per week participating in course learning modules, and 4 hours per week completing course readings and assignments.
Learning modules, course notes, and select readings will be made available as needed by the instructor.