Category: 2015-17 Death and Dying

Calvin Community: Healthy Aging and Brain Wellness

Robert BenderDr_-Bender-2013
Geriatric/Dementia Specialist, Broadlawns Medical Center

Moderator: Mary Mincer Hansen
Co-Chair, Age Friendly Great Des Moines Health Committee

Tuesday, January 26, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University

It’s a commonplace that physical exercise is an important element of healthy aging. What is less well recognized is the benefit of exercising your brain.

According to Dr. Bender, combining physical exercise and cognitive activity along with other factors such as diet, meditation, and medication can help to retard the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases. He notes that modern science has revealed that humans “get new brain cells every day until the day we die.”

Dr. Bender, who has practiced as a geriatrician for more than 30 years, will share what modern medicine has taught about aging well, along with some of the insights he has gained from his work in the Mather Brain Gymnasium at Broadlawns.


Dr. Mincer Hansen is the former Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Dr. Mincer Hansen has served in many national positions and held many roles involving public health.

Continuing education credit is available through HCI Care Services for nurses and other healthcare professionals.


View the video recording of the event

Christians Encounter Death: Tradition's Ambivalent Legacies

Lucy BregmanLucy5

Professor of Religion, Temple University

Thursday, November 19, 7:00 p.m.
Pomerantz Stage, Olmsted Center, Drake University


The central focus for Christians has been on the death of Jesus Christ; it is his dying and death and resurrection that have shaped what Christians have believed, taught, and hoped. In this lecture, some of the implications and limits of this model for death will be brought to light. While we recognize enormous diversity in practice and actual experiences of Christians, some issues persist in the way this tradition has understood how death fits within the totality of human existence.

Lucy Bregman has been at Temple University since 1974 and is the author of several books on death and dying, including Death in the Midst of Life, Beyond Silence and Denial, and Preaching Death. She has also chaired the American Academy of Religion’s program unit on Death, Dying and Beyond.

To listen to the audio of the lecture:

La migración y el culto a la Santa Muerte: asirse a lo que sea ("Migration and the Cult of Santa Muerte: Hanging onto Whatever")

Eduardo GonzálezIMG_3729

Research Professor, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Guadalajara


Thursday, October 29, 7:00 p.m.
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University


The “cult of Santa Muerte” (Saint Death) is the fastest growing and most prominent religious movement in Mexico today. Prof. González’s Comparison Project lecture explores the worship of Santa Muerte in the city of Guadalajara, focusing both on the general ways in which the church of Santa Muerte offers “a place for everyone” and on the specific ways in which Santa Muerte serves the needs of migrants attempting the crossing to the United States.

Eduardo González Velázquez is is a Research Professor at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. He won the Jalisco Journalism Award in 2009 and 2007 in the category of reporting and writing respectively. He has published thirty articles and book chapters, including “Ciudadanos a la Mitad.” His current area of research is US-Mexico migration.

View Gonzalez’s PPT and listen to his lecture.  

How We Die: Evaluation, Reflection, Prescription

Zagoren picDr. Allen Zagoren, DO, MPA, FACOS, FACN
Associate Professor of Public Administration in the College of Business and Public Administration, Drake University

Thursday, September 17th
Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center, Drake University


Dr. Zagoren’s Comparison Project presentation takes the audience on a journey through humanity’s continued confrontation with death, with an emphasis on our attempts to prolong the inevitable.  Along the way, the audience will gaze at western society’s attempt to define and depict the dying process, inspect the role that human technology has played in redefining and ultimately confusing the end of life, and look out at the potential impact of future technology.  Influenced by the bestselling book How We Die by Sherwin Nuland, Dr. Zagoren’s presentation, like Nuland’s, is grounded in a physician’s observations.  But Dr. Zagoren’s presentation travels beyond medicine and science to art and music, underscoring the central mystery that is our death. 

Dr. Allen Zagoren is Associate Professor of Public Administration in the College of Business and Public Administration at Drake University, where he also serves as Chairperson of the Department of Management and Public Administration and the Graduate Curriculum Committee.  He is a trained General And Trauma Surgeon with subspecialty training in Interventional Nutrition and Wound Healing.  He currently serves as the Medical Director of the Wound Healing Collaborative at Unity Point Health System, Central Iowa.  Dr. Zagoren’s areas of expertise include health education in health policy and bio-ethics.

Dr. Zagoren’s powerpoint and audio

2015-16 Programming: Death and Dying

You can now find the complete programming for our 2015-16 series on theologies of death and rituals of dying on the website under “Lectures and Events” or by clicking here. This programming includes six scholar lectures, two practitioner dialogues (which will be hosted by Iles Funeral Homes’ Dunn’s Chapel), an event that features members of Above + Beyond Cancer’s 2015 mission trip to Nepal, and a short campus visit by Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Tashi Kyil Monastery.  In 2016 we are also co-sponsoring Calvin Community’s public panels on aging.

Thanks to our supporters for funding this programming, especially Iles Funeral Homes, which is a special series sponsor for the next two years of programming on death and dying.

  • Drake University Humanities Center
  • Humanities Iowa
  • The Medbury Fund
  • Drake University Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship
  • Des Moines Area Religious Council
  • Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation
  • Slay Fund for Social Justice (for support of our digital storytelling initiative)
  • Iles Funeral Homes — our special series sponsor for the next two years of programming on death and dying