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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Walking Dead gets its own online college course

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When The Walking Dead returns to AMC this October, it will be the reigning cable ratings champion, a juggernaut stronger than most major network shows. But season four will have something in addition to a similarly popular Chris Hardwick-hosted talk show to engage with viewers this time: The University of California, Irvine is offering a free open online course for fans to learn about the science that’s tangential to all the zombie killing and drawn-out misery of the survivors.


The class, entited “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead,” will be an eight-week interdisciplinary course that uses the show as a jumping-off point for discussions of survival, social identity, post-apocalyptic nutrition, and stress management. The faculty includes social science, physics, astronomy, public health, and mathematics professors and lecturers, and will require actual work. According to the course description:

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

Enroll for free by going to this website now. The first class takes place on October 14, the day after the new season premieres.