August 6, 2012 smz-blog

Taking a few lessons from zombies



— Jessica Morrow, SMZ intern

As a year-round, full-time student at Michigan State University, of course I look to take fun, interesting electives. So a seven-week summer online zombie class sounded right up my dark alley. I mean, how hard could it be? Watch Zombieland and beat each other with Styrofoam swords? Sounded interesting enough, so I signed up for “Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Catastrophes and Human Behavior” taught by Glenn Stutzky.

At the beginning, I was excited to fight off zombies and save the world. However, I quickly learned the class was about much more than that. First, we were divided into “survivor groups,” each a different size and with students of different ages. My group was an MSU student, a grad student, and a 40-year-old man from Florida.

Each week included a scenario and lesson. Scenarios ( were about what was happening to our group and the zombies. We learned about different religions, natural disasters, viruses, and more. The lessons varied from week to week; we applied them to our group’s scenario to help with our decision making. Students were required to write a journal, assigned readings, individual and group assignments, to comment on other works, and take a weekly quiz.

Although I saw lots of my free time go down the drain (or straight to the grave), this course was interesting to say the least. Grouped with people so seemingly different than me, we had to work together and agree on what to do to survive. We had to make tough decisions about helping people outside of our group, leaving our shelter, how to use our supplies, and more. I never thought scenarios created on YouTube could be so conflicting.

Sure, this class would have been much better held in person. Online, so much emotion was lost. Big breaks in communication between group members and videos made it hard to stay in character. And it was nearly impossible to meet everyone in person. But all in all, my summertime romp with the undead proved to be quite a lively—and worldly—experience.
[video; lots thought this course was going to be super easy, including the staff of adult swim]

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