Zombies 101: Teaching with the Walking Dead

Taking a college course can be something like a zombie apocalypse. Hoards of mindless, hungry students converge to hear a lecture. And if it’s boring, they’ll moan. On the other hand, a course about a zombie apocalypse would be anything but boring. Thanks to a team-up between AMC, education company Instructure, and University of California at Irvine, a new massive open online course (MOOC) aims to do just that: take a look at a zombie uprising within an academic context

Relying on AMC’s zombie series The Walking Dead as source material, the free MOOC will start on October 14 and focus specifically on the new, fourth season of the show. But the show itself is not the only focus—instead, the free course will use the series as a springboard into exploring the principles of physics, math, sociology, and biology. Called “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead,” the course description promises an inter-disciplinary academic journey deep into the universe of the TV series, covering such topics as social constructions in the show, the role of public health, nutrition, and—most importantly—the physics of headshotting a zombie.

Via Graeme McMillan with Wired:

Each Monday, the class will touch on events from the previous night’s episode, although no one involved in the course got any spoilers from AMC happens about the new season. “We did send them our [planned] weekly list of modules and said, Hey, is this going to align?” said Loble. “They gave us some feedback, so we do know we’re dealing with topics that align in some way with what’s going to be seen that week. Now, in what way they’ll align, we don’t know, but we do know that they’ll align.”

“It almost doesn’t matter what happens in the show, as long as there are zombies and they get shot in the head and get killed,” joked Michael Dennin, a professor of physics and astronomy at UC Irvine who helped create the course. “I really enjoy merging with the physics narrative arc with the pop culture I’m laying over it. It’s amazing how well a fictional physics example works to talk about real physics.”

You can sign up for the course here. The course will merge lectures, readings, small and large group discussions alongside quizzes. But at an estimated 2-4 hours a week on the course, it might just be a fun (and free) way to keep prepared for the inevitable zombie uprising.


Apocalypse 101: Take the Free Walking Dead Online Course From UC Irvine” by Graeme McMillan, Wired

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