Death Positivity

IPD 552 | Problem Framing


Mari Andersen
Sommer Farber
Leora Korn
Jill Stahl


Sarah Rottenberg

Death is as natural as birth, yet we often feel uneasy discussing death and dying with friends, teachers, or even loved ones.  Working with Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, IPD students set out to answer the question, “How might we encourage death positivity among school-aged children?” The goal of the project was to provide students in the Philadelphia area with the opportunity to discuss death in an open and natural setting. In this unique yet universal project, IPD students spent time understanding how experts in the field currently engage with school-aged children, interviewed school-aged children around their current experiences of death, and developed a range of ideas and two prototypes of experiences to vet with schoolchildren and experts. Ultimately, they developed programming around death positivity for middle and high school students.  The program was a tiered solution, in which the late elementary to middle school aged students would learn about the physical aspects of death, the middle school and early high school students would participate in historical and cultural explorations of death, and the late high school students would focus on the emotional aspects of death and better methods for coping and grieving. The goal is to educate students to better understand the physical, social, and emotional aspects of death in order to reduce fears or stigmas around the topic.