Faculty Spotlight

Elizabeth J. Bergman, PhD

This month's faculty spotlight isElizabeth J. Bergman, Associate Professor of Gerontology at Ithaca College.

What brought you to the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute?

Several things brought me – First, was a desire to work closely with students at an institution with a demonstrated commitment to undergraduate education. In addition, the IC/Longview Partnership and the strong community-oriented focus of the ICGI allows me the ability to create experiential learning opportunities for my students and for community elders on a regular basis. That is truly what I love doing.

Tell me about your research interests.

My research focuses on services and supports for people at the end of life and their loved ones. Lately, I’ve been researching perceptions about the goals of hospice and palliative care.

Moreover, why you are passionate about this topic?

I have been passionate about this topic for many different reasons over the course of my career. Early on, my passion was fueled by a sense of frustration that ageism and fear of death left many people feeling alone and unsupported at a vulnerable time in their lives, at the end of it. Even when people did feel supported, I saw, and still see, so much room for improvement. More recently, my passion has been fueled by a recognition that our healthcare system, and specifically those aspects of the system that interact with people at the end of life, will not change until healthcare consumers demand it. I want to build health literacy related to end of life care – to encourage people to ask the right questions, gather the appropriate information, and make informed decisions for themselves and their loved ones.

How do you like to spend your time outside ICGI?

Spending time with my family, hiking, quilting.

Do you have any advice for current students or prospective students?

Try a little bit of everything and do so with curiosity and an open mind. Learn to think and question sources. Decades from now, you will look back on your life in wonder that it turned out the way that it did. Don’t let that stress you out – it is exactly as it should be! Have fun along the way.

What books are on your nightstand?

The books on my nightstand are collecting dust, mainly because at this stage in my family life I fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. However, I listen to audio books and podcasts every chance I get. My favorite audio book from the last year is Educated by Tara Westover. Other favorites are Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. My favorite podcast is Everything Happens For a Reason with Kate Bowler. I also love Heavyweight, More Perfect, and Revisionist History.

If stranded on a deserted island, what one band or musician would help keep your sanity?

Bruce Hornsby

Dr. Elizabeth Bergman