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Lessons from 'The Walking Dead'

AMC’s The Walking Dead first premiered in October 2010 and has since garnered an unbelievable amount of attention. Three years later, on October 13, The Walking Dead returned to AMC for its fourth season. The horror drama has become so popular that the University of California, Irvine, in association with AMC and Instructure, is offering a free eight-week course on the series.

The course, titled “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead,” is a massive open online course (MOOC) and approaches the series through different academic perspectives, such as social sciences, physics, math, public health, and other relevant subjects.

The course was initiated by Instructure, an educational technology company, who approached AMC with an idea about offering an online course based on their hit series. AMC loved the idea and began to look for a university to host the class and eventually found the University of California, Irvine. Joanne Christopherson, a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences and associate director of the Demographic and Social Analysis M.A. program at UCI is one of the course professors. She said she was interested in teaching the class not only because she loves the show, but because she sees real issues in the show that we can all learn from.

“It is obvious that the writers of the show have really done their homework," she says. "The first two seasons [are] an example of Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs. Also, the social roles of each of the characters have been lost: their parental and occupational role is gone. There is no society in the series, and the question of what kind of society they are going to start arises, which I think puts us right into the fourth season.”

The course begins October 14, the day after the season premiere and runs for eight consecutive weeks. Each Monday, the day after the series airs, a week-long module will be sent out to the students, covering different topics, all related to the series’ social and general science issues. The entire class is taught asynchronous, meaning you can log in and review the material on your own time.

“I was compelled to enroll in this course when I learned that it's going to go deeper into the series by analyzing it through different sciences,” says Juan Godinez, a mechanical engineer major at UCI who is enrolled in the course. “The engineer in me is [eager] to learn how the fundamental courses I have taken can be applied to one of my favorite TV shows.”

The course is not limited to UCI students. Anyone with interest in the show and access to a computer is able to enroll, free of charge, via canvas.net/twd.

Now, is there any chance we'll get a Breaking Bad chemistry class? We can hope!

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