Thursday, October 10, 2013

Poppin' Off Early Edition- Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC's The Walking Dead

Have you ever watched The Walking Dead and wondered how you'd fair if you were in a situation like theirs? Have you ever wondered if a zombie apocalypse is even plausible, and if so, would you be able to identify what you needed to do to survive? If you answered yes to these questions, then I suggest you enroll in this free, online class taught by University of California Irvine instructors (see their official press release here).

The class starts on October 14, the day after the Season 4 premiere. They have special provisions put in place to avoid spoilers for those who have yet to see each episode. Below is the course description from the enrollment site:

From understanding social identities to modeling the spread of disease, this eight-week course will span key science and survival themes using AMC’s The Walking Dead as its basis. Four faculty members from the University of California, Irvine will take you on an inter-disciplinary academic journey deep into the world of AMC’s The Walking Dead, exploring the following topics:
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs—is survival just about being alive?
  • Social order and structures—from the farm and the prison to Woodbury
  • Social identity, roles, and stereotyping—as shown through leaders like Rick and the Governor
  • The role of public health in society—from the CDC to local community organizations
  • The spread of infectious disease and population modeling—swarm!
  • The role of energy and momentum in damage control—how can you best protect yourself?
  • Nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world—are squirrels really good for you?
  • Managing stress in disaster situations—what’s the long-term effect of always sleeping with one eye open?
Each week we’ll watch engaging lectures, listen to expert interviews, watch exclusive interviews with cast members talking about their characters, use key scenes from the show to illustrate course learning, read interesting articles, review academic resources, participate in large and small group discussions, and—of course—test our learning with quizzes. We recommend that you plan on spending about two (2) to four (4) hours per week on this course, though we believe the course is compelling enough you’ll want to spend more time.
At the end of this course, you will be able to:
  • 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
The links I've included have my friend code (WP3MM8) in them. When you enroll with a friend code, it links you to others who are also using that code. According to the email they send you after enrollment, the code will help you survive attacks from biters, walkers, the living....and might help you win cool prizes. And the super cool part is, you get your own friend code once you sign up, so you can share the fun and have your own fair shot at winning prizes. I am very excited for this and I hope you'll join me.  

Walking Dead photo from

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