Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”


AMC’s The Walking Dead advertisement for the Season 4 Premiere

Survivors of the infamous zombie television show can now take an online course involving themes and science in the show. According to the enrollment website, the course description says, “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.” Anyone around the globe can sign up for this free online course, hosted by University of California, Irvine.

This course will explore topics such as: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, social structures, and even nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world says the course description on the site. Students will engage in lectures, watch interviews with cast members form the show, use key scenes to illustrate a topic, and take quizzes to demonstrate knowledge.
Four instructors from UCI will help teach the course, according to the site.  Joanne Christopherson, Ph.D, is a lecturer in the Social Sciences department and is also fan of psychological thrillers.
Christopherson said, “’The Walking Dead’ can be scary, but the zombies aren’t even the scariest characters in the show. Each episode is rich with social issues: what it means to be human, the basis of social order, freedom and action, value judgments and human differences, and personal and social change. It was hard to pick just three social topics—social identity, models of society, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—for this course.”
Matt Stafford, 21, linguistics, stated, “I think the course is a great opportunity to learn about something that strikes my interest but at the same time is academic. The idea alone was exciting enough for me to engage in a conversation about what ‘ifs.’”
Stafford does not watch “The Walking Dead”, but was excited behind the concept of the course overall. People who do not watch the can still enroll in the class to learn some of themes used in the show.
Stafford also said, “It stimulates questions like could there possibly be a zombie apocalypse why are they studying aspects of a zombie world such as walking dead. Although, I do acknowledge it’s solely academic, it obviously going to peak the interest of students and its a great way to communicate and be proactive with academic community.” By taking the course, students can learn a thing or two in a variety subjects in academics.
In New Universities’ article “UCI Brings The Walking Dead to Life” posted on Nov. 19, Christopherson said, “The issues are real-life even if the zombies are not. People living in dangerous situations all over the world: terrorism, tyranny, domestic violence, poverty, natural disasters for example.”
Society, Science, Survival: Lessons will teach a variety of subjects by using “The Walking Dead” as a medium to appeal to the several thousands fans of the series. The course began right after the season four premiere of “The Walking Dead”, October 14. For more information or to enroll please visit:
The mid-season premiere may have finished, but their is still time to enroll for the last month of the class. It is not to late, the course ends Dec. 23, 2013.

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