Zombie Classes Can Be Serious

College courses that take advantage of pop culture are nothing new.  Nor are courses focused on zombies.  But it’s rare for the producer of the pop culture to get behind the courses in a significant fashion.

That has changed (and I’m late to the party).

But Not Simpler (over at Scientific American) reported that AMC, the network that airs The Walking Dead, collaborated with the Canvas Network and the University of California, Irvine on an online course.  Running last fall, Society, Science Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead was an eight-week course running in tandem with the fourth season of the zombie program.  It was also quite interdisciplinary, as the expected course outcomes describe:

  • Describe how infectious diseases—like a zombie epidemic—spread and are managed
  • Apply various models of society and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to existing and emerging societies as a means for understanding human behavior
  • Analyze existing social roles and stereotypes as they exist today and in an emerging world
  • Debate the role of public health organizations in society
  • Describe how mathematical equations for population dynamics can be used to study disease spread and interventions
  • Apply concepts of energy and momentum appropriately when analyzing collisions and other activities that either inflict or prevent damage
  • Summarize multiple methods for managing stress in disaster situations

Over 65,000 people signed up for the course last year.  Given that demand, I’m surprised that I cannot find an instance where this particular course has been repeated.  Especially since Instructure (the parent company of Canvas) conducted a survey of more than 12,000 course participants.


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