Death school

College is a time for life lessons, growing up, learning what’s right, and living the good life. Part of the educational processes of college includes taking classes that will help you learn and grow. In my college career (associates, bachelor’s, and now working on my master’s) I figure I’ve taken roughly 30+ classes. And now, at almost the conclusion of my master’s course work here at Southern Utah University, I’m taking a death class. Not so much a class I want to die in (because trust me, I’ve taken many of those in my educational career), but specifically just a class about death. More exactly, it’s a course called “Persuasive Message Design Utilizing Existential Awareness.” I swear I didn’t make that up. In a seminar format, we fellow TbirdNation-ers discuss elements of mortality salience, existential anxiety, and terror management theory. I won’t make you take this class, but I’ll promise you its pretty interesting. The class was offered to undergrad psychology and communication students as well as graduate communication students. There are ten of us in there (all of us pictured below), and believe you me, this is a wild bunch.

Our instructor, Dr. Lindsey Harvell showing off the text book. She loves death. Uh, I mean she loves the STUDY of death. The class is based primarily on her doctoral dissertation.


I told Jerry and Xochil to give me their death faces. Apparently they’re not very death salient.


Jay and Mike felt a bit more death aware. Obviously.


J.R. and Katrice super-love discussions on existential anxiety!  (These are their death-faces.)


Rick proudly displays the paper he wrote and turned in for class this week. It was a sample method section for a potential terror management study utilizing death anxiety. Cool huh.


I asked Ginny and Yanavey for their “death smiles” but they seem to have misinterpreted the request.


Every textbook has something to teach. I think my book for this class is teaching me to watch my back.

I can honestly say I know more about death than I ever thought possible before taking this class. While the subject matter isn’t exactly within my preferred course(s) of study, it has led to an increased understanding of persuasion and message design logic within the field of communication. But more so, since college is a time for life lessons, growing up, learning what’s right, and living the good life, I can honestly say that I’ve learned many of those lessons in class this semester. College is awesome.


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