In case you are not aware, zombies are kind of a big deal right now. The Walking Dead is setting all kinds of viewership records during its third season on AMC, 5K races are being adapted to include the undead, and even the federal government launched a zombie awareness campaign last year through the Centers for Disease Control. So it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that an institute of higher learning is now adapting zombies into a summer education program for high school students. Hit the jump for details on The Zombie Scholars Academy at Truman University.
The week-long Zombie Scholars Academy program at the Truman Institute within Truman University in Missouri centers on a series of academic classroom courses and hands-on activities that build upon the program’s overarching goals of fostering critical thinking skills, learning how to address complex problems and engaging with peers. While this sounds like the basis for many academic summer programs, the curriculum is taught against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse, which offers a unique twist that should excite and encourage students to draw from their recreational interests and to make academic connections.
It’s also noteworthy that the program has the backing of notable names in the zombie genre. World War Z author Max Brooks, as well as Matt Mogk of the Zombie Research Society (and who has also appeared on The Talking Dead) are counted as advisors to the program.
I applaud the folks at the Truman Institute for leveraging aspects of our popular culture to create exciting learning opportunities for students. The variety of related stories we have covered over the last several months speaks to the demand that immersive zombie experiences currently have on the populace. As their website suggests, people really want to be in this world and think critically about how they would survive:
Why do we enjoy dystopian novels and movies like the Hunger Games, V for Vendetta, Total Recall, Fahrenheit 451or The Planet of the Apes? Why do plot lines about romances between humans and vampires or werewolves attract so many to the box office? Why do scenarios about the end of the world or organized society make for some of the most popular offerings on TV? Aside from the purely thrilling or humorous elements of these plots, we believe the fundamental reason why people – particularly young people – love these stories so much is that they provoke creative thought about REAL problems we face. These stories ask us to imagine what we would do in a crisis, what science would do to help us, and how we’d solve problems without the benefit of the resources we take for granted. In short, these stories turn on that part of our brain that makes us think most critically. Because the subject matter is fictional, we can enjoy that creative experience that much more.
The Zombie Scholars Academy takes this idea and turns it into a dynamic, one-week residential summer learning experience, exposing students to great opportunities in biology, mathematics, creative writing, social science, group leadership and problem solving.
The Zombie Scholars Academy will run from July 7-14, 2013. For more information, you can check out their website.
Do you wish your university offered a “zombie preparedness” bachelor’s degree? A master’s in “apocalyptic studies?” Let us know what you think of The Zombie Scholars Academy in the comments section below.