*Students depicted in this video are not using real firearms during “room clearing” / problem solving exercises. Airsoft equipment and protective gear are used under the supervision of Army ROTC personnel.
The Zombie Scholars Academy employs a dynamic curriculum that places students in the heart of a hypothetical disaster. While definitions of problem-based learning differ, our objective is to put students in an environment where every activity, every class discussion, and every action they take during the day is viewed in light of questions that begin with “What if…?”
Have you ever wondered what you would do if all electricity were cut off, your cell phones and web-based devices were now useless to you, refrigeration was no longer available, water purification had failed, transportation infrastructure was no longer useable, and neither the military nor the police was available to protect you from the dangers of the world? Would you panic or would you work with others to find solutions to everyday challenges? These are questions that are as pertinent to people facing the aftermath of a hurricane or earthquake as they are to survivors running from a horde of the undead.
Our curriculum is designed to achieve these goals:
- To leave students more prepared to deal with complex problems.
- To energize students about learning – particularly critical thinking.
- To help students feel comfortable in their interests and empowered to use their interests as a vehicle to learn and to share with others.
- To expand knowledge of disaster preparedness – both among Academy participants and others with whom they may share their acquired knowledge.
Students will begin with core coursework that explores critical themes important to all students and their interests in the Academy’s topics. Students will explore society’s response to crisis situations and how we regroup after the collapse (or the weakening) of critical institutions. They will investigate the rise and recent reemergence of Dystopian fiction (e.g.: Hunger Games, V for Vendetta, Fahrenheit 451, 1984), and what it says about humans and the way we respond to our environment. Students will also explore the psychological challenges that are posed by coming to terms with a new world, including ethics and life and death dilemmas. Finally, students will consider the math, biology, epidemiology, and neurobiology of the “hypothetical” zombie with the goal of being able to critically evaluate the challenges of survival in light of both real, and plausibly real, environmental conditions.
From here students will explore a variety of topics that make practical application of the concepts they’ve explored in core coursework
Students will engage in additional coursework that engages them in Critical Problem Solving where they will be acquiring hands-on knowledge of surviving in a crisis situation. They will explore the preparation of disaster kits, methods of meeting food and water safety needs, approaches to finding or building shelter, orienteering skills, leadership and communication skills, and more. In these courses the primary objective will be developing a fundamental understanding of survival in a crisis situation, but more importantly, students will be intellectually challenged as they try to work through the problem of making good choices themselves.
Matt Mogk of the Zombie Research Society discusses disaster preparedness
We learn a lot about solving problems by exploring how others think about problems. As they say, the pen is often mightier than the sword, and students whose interests dwell in the more literary and creative aspects of the zombie genre will find their fascination fueled by coursework that links creativity with critical think.
While we need strategic thinkers to help us survive an apocalyptic scenario, writers help us think about these scenarios long before we confront them. Authors such as Bradbury, Orwell, Collins, and a host of current authors writing in the zombie genre, such as Max Brooks, Seth Grahame-Smith, and others, have helped readers grapple with the question, “What would I do if…?”
When studying Literature and Media, students will explore themes and characters in the zombie genre, dystopian fiction, and horror. They will discuss the sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle, social, political, and moral commentary made by authors of these stories. Moving from a discussion of the genre, students will explore themes in literature, television, and film and work on some of their own writing projects. Depending on student interests, projects may range from individual short stories to oral histories or public service announcements.
Activities are designed to tie-in to what is being explored in the classroom. Students will have the opportunity to receive first aid or CPR training, practice security and quarantine techniques (room clearing), play zombie-themed tag games (Humans vs. Zombies), experiment with zombie makeup, try their hand at unique survival technologies, engage in room clearing activities with the ROTC, and critique classic films in the zombie genre. Several prominent guest speakers from the zombie film and literature genre are expected to attend as guest speakers and facilitators.
Typical Daily Schedule
Noon-2 pm Check-in at Residence Hall 2:00-2:45 pm Parent Orientation 2:00-5:00 pm Student Orientation Activities 5:15-6:15 pm Dinner at Ryle Hall 6:20-9:15 pm Walking Tour of Truman and the Kirksville Square. 8:00-9:15 pm Group Activities 9:30-10:00 pm Hall Meeting 10:15 pm Curfew 11:00 pm Lights Out
Monday-Saturday 7:00-9:00 am Breakfast/Free Time 9:15-Noon Class 12:15-1:15 pm Lunch/Free Time 1:30-5:00 pm Class and Labs 5:15-6:15 pm Dinner/Free Time 6:30-9:15 pm Activities or Special Exercises 9:30-10:00 pm Hall Meeting 10:15 pm Curfew 11:00 pm Lights Out
Early am Students flying home via Kansas City International Airport board the bus to the airport (time is based on departure and flight times). 8:00 am Check-out begins. Parents meet your son or daughter in the main lounge, move everything out of their residence hall room, and go to the lounge on their floor to begin the check-out process. A staff member will accompany the student back to his/her room to make sure everything has been removed and the room is clean. The remaining check-out will take place at stations in the main lounge. 11:00 am The last student goes home!
Note: most students will be moved-out by 10 am.