Zombie related class recognized as best online class in country
Whether they are shuffling across television screens on AMC’s popular television series “The Walking Dead” or chasing helpless victims in films such as “World War Z,” zombies have saturated popular culture, evolving into an entertainment keystone.
And in an effort to strike while the brains were fresh, Glenn Stutzky, a senior clinical instructor in the School of Social Work, decided to teach a zombie-related class last summer, which has skyrocketed in popularity as well as receiving critical acclaim.
Awarded the best online class in the 2013 AT&T Faculty-Staff Award Competition in Instructional Technology, SW290, Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior has become one of the most talked about classes on campus.
In attempting to get the word out, Stutzky didn’t rely on word of mouth alone.
“I wanted (to have) a poster people would steal,” he admitted, cutting into his cinnamon crunch muffin as he discussed the goals of the class. While the class starts traditionally enough with a two-week overview of the history of disasters, the class transforms as students attempt to survive in a world overrun with zombies.
Orchestrated with videos to convey the desperate situations, students band together in attempt to assess the situation, gather supplies and use their knowledge of disaster scenarios to avoid the same fate as the hapless drones who meander the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Challenges such as how to handle survivors seeking refuge and whether or not to bury the dead prompts students to think logically while straining their moral fiber.
“It’s one of the most engaging activities I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of, which is all the more surprising that it’s a class,” according to Stephen Sorensen, a recent MSU graduate. “You learn a lot about catastrophes and even a little about yourself as you are challenged with questions that are important to all of us, even if we don’t think about them every day.”
Into the second year of the class, Stutzky still finds himself surprised by the actions of his students. In this year’s class, 70 to 80 percent of the groups chose not to save a survivor, and many elected to not even bury his body after his death, according to Stutzky.
“We try to make everything as real as possible with the scenarios,” he said.
Stutzky insisted the decisions students made would have consequences in the end, just as they would in real life.
Hailey Mooney, a data services and reference librarian, has found herself spun into the zombie madness, assisting students with the course under the moniker of the “zombriarian.”
“As a member of the course instruction team, it’s my job to prevent our students from becoming information zombies,” she said. “That’s when students fail to critically evaluate sources of information. Especially when your life is on the line, understanding the “who, what, where, when and why” of the information you base decisions on is incredibly important.”
Looking to the future, Stutzky wants to continue to expand the scope of the class and he has a clear message for perspective students.
“Take the class, survive the event, save the world,” he concluded.