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“The Walking Dead” Find Brains Through a Free Online Course


Posted October 15, 2013 by

It’s well known that zombies are typically used as an allegorical representation for commentary on social and/or political issues. Most viewers are thankful that most of this is done through very clever subtext—you can enjoy your gore and terror without getting too deep into things. For some of us though, this is the exact reason why zombie stories are so enthralling. The University of California, Irvine and fall into the latter camp. Following the release of The Walking Dead’s Season 4 premiere, the two groups paired up with AMC to officially launch an online (and free!) course titled, ”Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead.”

The eight-week class explores various themes from social sciences, health sciences, physics, and mathematics and their applications to everyone’s favorite zombie show. Each Monday brings along a different topic that’s explored through various lecturers, exclusive interviews with cast members, articles, discussion boards, clips from the show, and quizzes. Needless to say, it’s a lot of material to get through. As per the website’s description, “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 that you’ll want to spent more time.” Having completed the tasks for week one myself, I can say that their estimate is pretty accurate—I clocked in at two and a half hours.

Yes, I know you’ve probably got a few questions. Naturally, I decided to put together a mini-F.A.Q. to clear things up:

1.) Free? What’s the catch?
– There actually isn’t one. All materials are available for free. Pretty cool, huh? Expect lots of links to different websites, videos, and PDFs.

2.) Quizzes? Can I really fail out of a free online course?
– Nope! The 10 weekly multiple-choice questions are purely for testing your understanding of each week’s material. Or, well, for fun if you’re into that sort of thing. For worried completionists, you can actually retake each quiz as many times as you’d like.

3.) What if I don’t have time to check things out every week?
– Each “module”—the various lectures, discussions, etc. for a given topic—opens up on Monday mornings. Once they’re unlocked, they remain open for the remainder of the course. Thankfully, there’s no real-time events to worry about—everything can be done at your own pace. With the course closing on December 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM, you’ve got a lot of time to check things out. I’d imagine there’s a lot of slackers that plan on cramming all the material in that final week.

4.) What topics are there?
– Take a look at this handy-dandy screengrab:

By the end of the eight weeks, the course claims that you’ll be able to:
End of course

Whether you’re prepping for some as-of-yet-unknown apocalypse, are a fan of The Walking Dead, or are simply interested in the topics covered, there’s a wealth of information available for free. While you’re not getting a bullet-point to fire on your résumé, taking fiction and making it real always makes for a fun and interesting time. And, well, who knows? If that ever-present and shuffling hoarde does actually show up, you’d know the exact steps to follow.





    Do you think students can take this for actual college course credit?


      As far as I can tell, all courses are created for purely education/entertainment purposes. While you can’t receive official college credit, depending on the course, you *might* be able to list it on your resume.

      EX: Michael A. Stackpole starts teaching a class about sci-fi writing next week–the guy’s worked on numerous Star Wars novels and comic books. Having him as a professor/mentor would look good for any writing gig you’re applying for.

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