UC Irvine Offers Online Course in "The Walking Dead"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    In this image released by AMC, zombies appear in a scene from the AMC original series, "The Walking Dead." (AP Photo/AMC, Gene Page)

    What can The Walking Dead teach us about the role of public health in society? Can Rick Grimes lead us in a better understanding of infectious disease? And can walkers and biters give us a better understanding of nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world? The University of California, Irvine thinks it can.

    UC Irvine will offer a course in “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead” this fall in an online course.

    The course materials will consist of seasons 1-3 of the hit AMC zombie show with an active discussion of season 4, which premieres October 13.

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    “There will be measures in place to prevent spoilers before the new episode airs in later time zones,” course coordinator Melissa Loble said.

    The course is open to the public. Loble says, "It will be a course students can sink their teeth into.”

    The course will include a look at a number of topics, including managing stress in disaster situations, social order and public health and infectious disease.

    “In The Walking Dead, there is a tragic absence of any semblance of public health agencies, expertise, or communications for the surviving members of society,” reads the course catalog.
    The syllabus includes “thriving on a post-apocalyptic diet.”

    Yes, there will be a quiz.

    In “modeling a zombie outbreak,” the class will “explore how mathematics help study the dynamics of disease spread within a population. “Using the walker world as an example, we will begin dividing the population into different groups (human, zombie/walker, and permanently dead) and then use the interactions among these groups to formulate and utilize our mathematical model.”

    “It’s a serious course,” Loble said, though she acknowledges zombies tend to draw attention.

    "You can take the principles we teach and apply them to the post-apocalyptic world and the real world around you," Loble said.

    It's been done before: a spoof posting by the Centers for Disease Control about "zombie preparedness” was so popular it crashed government servers. The CDC used the opportunity to teach those interested in end of the world scenarios how to better prepare -- whether that be the undead or a run-of-the-mill earthquake.

    The first day of the eight-week online class is October 14.