‘The Walking Dead’ Free Online College Course Opens For Enrollment

The Walking Dead as a college course? This is not a reference to college students who drag themselves into an 8 am class.

It may not be a “gut,” but the hit TV show The Walking Dead has inspired a free college course that will be conducted entirely online.

Sponsored by the University of California, Irvine, the interdisciplinary, eight-week course is called “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead.” The course commences on October 14, the day after the series’ highly anticipated season four premiere episode.

The school is apparently partnering with AMC itself as well as online course vendor Instructure to develop the so-called massive open online course (MOOC) — which is not for credit by the way, but be advised that it evidently requires about two to four hours a week of prep work by each student.

In case you somehow tuned in late — or not at all — to the most popular cable television show in America, The Walking Dead, based on a series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, follows a small group of survivors who are led by Georgia Sheriff Rick Grimes (British actor Andrew Lincoln) in a quest to try to find a safe haven far away from virulent zombie-cannibal “walkers,” a.k.a. “biters.” As portrayed in season three in particular, some of the humans that they encounter along the way are also equally dangerous.

The Walking Dead is a huge part of the AMC network’s powerhouse Sunday night franchise which also includes Mad Men and the soon-to-end Breaking Bad. In the context of the zombie series, the “walking dead” may also describe the humans who are all infected with the virus in its dormant stage.

Conducted by four Irvine professors, with the help of key clips from the show itself, the new Walking Dead online course will cover such topics as the spread of infectious diseases and interventions, social orders, structures, and roles (i.e., locations such as the farm, Woodbury, the prison, and leaders like Rick and the Governor), managing stress in disaster situations, and — of course — nutrition in a post-apocalyptic world.

As Variety explains, “Students will view scholarly subjects such as social science, public health, mathematics and physics through the lens of a hypothetical zombie apocalypse, using examples from the one portrayed in the series.”

With regard to to the Walking Dead online course, an AMC executive suggests that “Fans know that The Walking Dead is about more than zombies. It’s about survival, leadership and adapting to situations that are perilous and uncertain. There is clearly a growing appetite for engagement with The Walking Dead, and we hope this online course will drive a deep, sustained connection with the show and offer a legitimate educational experience that can be applied even more broadly.”

According to Forbes, “For Irvine, it’s a test to see what kind of results you can get from mixing pop culture with academics…The course is expected to be one of the largest online courses in history.”

Would you consider signing up for The Walking Deadline online college course?