UC Irvine is taking the zombie apocalypse and turning it into an online course. The school, cable network AMC and Instructure are teaming up to provide a free, massive open online course (MOOC) seen through the lens of the AMC series "The Walking Dead."
The course will play off of themes raised by the show, which examines how humans survive — and compete — after a zombie apocalypse.
The free eight-week class will be offered on Instructure's MOOC platform, Canvas Network.
Several UCI faculty members who are familiar with using pop culture in the classroom will teach the course, titled "Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC's 'The Walking Dead.'"
Sarah Eichhorn of the school's math department said taking the TV show and applying math instruction is a great opportunity for her, AMC and UCI.
"I see this as an opportunity to expose the general public to interesting topics from a variety of disciplines," Eichhorn said. "In my case, I'm excited to be able to show some cool mathematics to people that they might not have understood or known about."
Eichhorn said the use of "The Walking Dead" for the MOOC might also help spur more people to study technology, science and engineering.
UC Irvine faculty teaching an online course related to the AMC show "The Walking Dead." From left: Sarah Eichhorn, Michael Dennin, Joanne Christopherson and Zuzana Bic. Photo courtesy UC Irvine.
UCI's Zuzana Bic, who will offer a program on public health, said she frequently uses pop culture analogies in her teaching. "As an educator, I'm always looking for ways to make scholarly ideas come alive for my students, and the key is to make it interesting and relatable," she said.
Bic added: "There will be something for everyone in this [MOOC], which will explore academic concepts as varied as post-apocalyptic nutrition, the foundations of human survival and stereotypes in a Darwinian environment."
AMC said the partnership is the first time a technology firm, entertainment company and major university have collaborated in this way.
"We hope this online course will...offer a legitimate educational experience that can be applied even more broadly," said Theresa Beyer, AMC's vice president of promotions.
Enrollment is free. The first class is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 14, the day after the premiere of Season 4 of "The Walking Dead."
AMC says "The Walking Dead" is the most-watched series in basic cable history and was the number one show on television last season among adults 18-to-49, across all broadcast and cable networks.