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University Of Washington Communication Leadership Program Launches The Let's Have Dinner And Talk About Death Project

SEATTLE, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The University of Washington Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) program today announced the launch of Let's Have Dinner and Talk about Death – a project created to foster proactive and constructive conversations about end-of-life decisions. Designed for both intimacy and accessibility, the Let's Have Dinner and Talk about Death project leverages the physical dinner table as its centerpiece, and provides additional opportunities for engagement online at deathoverdinner.org. The current microsite documents the work that has been completed to date. A full interactive version of the project's engagement platform, designed by Seattle-based firm CIVILIZATION, will launch in the summer of 2013.

The Let's Have Dinner and Talk about Death project was born from the collaborative minds of Michael Hebb (inaugural MCDM Teaching Fellow) and Scott Macklin (MCDM Associate Director) in their ongoing effort to rethink the role the internet plays in embodied human experience.

@deathoverdinner Plenty of room at this table – join us for the most important conversation Americans are not having #deathoverdinner

"It is clear that sharing our preferences for what we'd like at the end of our life is the most important – and costly – conversation that Americans are not having," said Michael Hebb. "Data has revealed that 70 percent of Americans say they would prefer to die at home yet only 25 percent of Americans actually die at home. In addition, it has been reported that more than 25 percent of Medicare dollars are spent on the last year of patients' lives."

*Just announced: Michael Hebb will speak about deathoverdinner.org at TEDMED 2013, April 18th in Washington, D.C.

Last fall, Hebb and Macklin invited students in the MCDM program to meet for dinner every week at famed architectural firm Olson Kundig's exhibition space for eight classroom design sessions. Not a typical classroom experience – participants gathered around the table, drank wine, ate local organic food, and engaged in conversation around how to design for a comprehensive interactive digital platform that that deals with end of life issues among friends and family. The classroom included leading palliative care experts, gravestone designers, psychologists, artists, authors, and philosophers. What emerged from the course was a powerful intention to build an interactive digital experience for inspiring real dinners hosted by real people who want to talk about the realities of death -- how they want to die and how they want to be remembered.

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