Summer Teacher Workshop

Why should the kids have all the fun?


 Zombie Scholars Academy – Workshop for Teachers

Using Science Fiction Themes to Enhance Critical Thinking in the K-12 Classroom

Includes 3 Hours of Truman Graduate Credit (ED 560G)

June 18-24, 2017


In the next few days, applicants to the 2017 Zombie Scholars Academy, and 2017 Zombie Teachers Academy, will be notified about the cancellation of this summer’s programs.  Colleges and Universities throughout Missouri were notified in January of significant withholdings in funding by the state as a result of revenue shortfalls and the need to balance the state budget.  Additional cuts to higher education are anticipated in the next fiscal year.  After careful contemplation, it was determined that in the present budgetary climate the academy could not provide the ideal balance of staff and students required to make the exceptional experience we have come to love these past several years.  We are currently evaluating strategies that would allow for the “reanimation” of the program in summer 2018 while adapting to the more challenging budgetary climate.  We regret any convenience this change in plans may cause students and their families.  Please feel free to contact our office with any questions you may have.


Kevin Minch, Associate Provost

Jared Young, Coordinator of Summer Academies and Institutes

If there’s one thing good teachers have learned from their experience working with kids, it’s that learning is most successful when students are having so much fun that they crave doing more.

That’s what we’ve learned through years of running summer academies at Truman – and most recently at Zombie Scholars Academy.

Now we want to bring that quality experience to teachers.

Are you…

  • Looking for new ways to help students learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills?
  • Having trouble motivating students with common textbook topics?
  • Worried that students aren’t taking the best they can from engagement with popular culture and video games?

101_6485This residential* institute for teachers is designed to excite K-12 faculty about leveraging pop culture – particularly the surging “zombie” phenomenon – to engage students in exciting, deeply meaningful, interdisciplinary learning.

(*Local teachers have the option of commuting at a reduced price!)

Using insights and model activities derived from the Zombie Scholars Academy curriculum, teachers will:

  • Explore techniques in problem-based learning;
  • Investigate constructive use of popular media to explore the sciences and humanities;
  • Engage folklore as a vehicle for investigating society’s historical struggles to grow and redefine itself;
  • Apply zombie fiction to the teaching of STEM themes, including environmental stewardship, epidemiology, human anatomy, and mathematical/statistical reasoning;
  • Walk away with complete lesson plans that can be adapted to a variety of course objectives and grade levels.

All content is adaptable to elementary and secondary grades.

Graduate Credit

Completion of the program awards three graduate credits from Truman State University.  For a bundled fee of only $750 you get tuition and housing* in Truman’s West Campus Suites, and all instructional costs (Commuting teachers from the Kirksville area can attend for $550).  There are no added fees!  With graduate tuition for a comparable course typically running as much as $1700, this program’s so affordable, it’s scary!

*In order to provide flexibility, meals are on your own.  You can take the on campus in our cafeteria, in the Student Union, or at off-campus establishments within walking distance.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is April 14, 2017.  Spots in the program are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Applicants need to complete a Summer Teachers Workshop Application available here.
  • Applicants need to complete the Non-Degree Seeking Graduate Application available here.  Indicate the desired course as ED 560G when prompted in the drop-down menu.  Letters of recommendation are NOT required for this application.
  • To pay fees online by credit card or e-check, click here.  You can also send check or money order to the address listed below.  The graduate credit fee will need to be paid by check only.

Send the Workshop Application to:

The Institute for Academic Outreach
Truman State University
100 E Normal Ave
McClain Hall 303
Kirksville MO  63501

Who Should Attend?

Teachers from nearly every discipline will find content that they can use to their benefit.  The critical elements of the curriculum are problem-solving, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary thinking.  A non-exhaustive list of people who will benefit from this topic include:

  • Teachers of biology, anatomy, and physiology looking for new ways to advance understanding of organ systems, neurology, evolutionary adaptation, and disease;
  • Teachers of psychology, sociology, government, and other social sciences interested in inspiring students to think about how people function individually and collectively;
  • Teachers of the language arts interested in inspiring students to explore new kids of literature and rediscover classics;
  • Teachers in the physical sciences aiming to illustrate mechanical and chemical principles through survival themes;
  • Teachers in communication arts interested in using challenging ethical dilemmas as themes for speeches or debates;
  • Gifted teaching specialists looking for new ways to motivate students through unconventional, but popular, topics;
  • Any teacher looking to be refreshed and inspired in the creation of their own unique lessons, regardless of subject matter.
Got Brains?

Got Brains?

Seriously?  My Principal Isn’t Going to Buy This as Professional Development!

Your academic credit will be transcripted as ED 560G – a graduate readings course in our Education Department.  Zombies will not appear in the course title!

However, questions of transcripting aside, our curriculum is meant to tackle a very important problem in education – motivating students who are not motivated (or less motivated) by conventional approaches to presenting course content.  When we think of zombies and education, we think of that smart kid who sits on the sidelines of class.  S/he has great standardized test scores, but maybe doesn’t perform as well on homework or participate in class discussions.  You hear from the student or parents that things are just “too boring” to get motivated.  This might be the child who is into video games, challenging fantasy or science fiction novels, or you could picture attending a Comicon.  At the same time, however, we’ve found the topics equally engaging to highly motivated kids who simply want a change of pace.

In short, this curriculum is not about zombies. To borrow the zombie metaphor, it uses the topic to crack open the skull and get at the tasty brains inside.

Read this essay by one of our founding faculty about how zombies work with the liberal arts.


This course will be staffed by highly-regarded Truman faculty, regular faculty from the Zombie Scholars Academy, notable figures in zombie pop culture, and
K-12 teachers who have already worked using elements of this curriculum.  As contributors are confirmed, we will list them here.


In addition to topic-specific materials acquired during the program, all participants will leave with a prepared binder of lesson plans designed for a variety of different contexts.

Expected Topics

101_6385The final schedule of the workshop is subject to change based on available speakers, but will be designed to mirror key topics covered in our student academy.  Participants can expect topics and activities similar to those listed here.  The schedule may be adapted based on the disciplinary composition of participating teachers.

  • Zombies as Metaphor
  • Disaster Scenarios as Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Exercises
  • Leveraging Contemporary Apocalyptic Media to Positive Educational Ends
  • If Zombies Were Real: The Biology and Epidemiology of the Hypothetical Zombie
  • Monsters and Society: The Literature and Folklore of the Living Dead
  • Psychology, Ethics, and Life and Death Dilemmas
  • Debating the Use of Strategic Resources – A Sample Multidisciplinary Communication Exercise
  • The Mathematics and Statistics of a Plague
  • Characters and Character Flaws:  Using Zombies and Science Fiction to Explore the Human Condition
  • Civics in the Zombie Apocalypse: Government and International Relations at the end of the World

Expected Activities/Discussions

  • A Visit to the AT Still University Gross Anatomy (Cadaver) Lab
  • Finding Shelter/Sheltering in Place:  Exploring Team Building Through Shelter Building
  • Build a “Bug-Out Bag”:  Designing a Survival Kit to Discussion Survival, Biology, First Aid, and Health
  • Zombie Movie Classics:  Viewing and Discussion

Daily Schedule

Arrival:  Sunday, June 18 (Afternoon arrival, check-in; evening keynote)
Daily:  Morning Sessions (9 am – 11:45 am); Afternoon Sessions (1 pm – 4 pm); Evening Activities 6:30 pm -9:30 pm)
Departure:  Saturday, June 24 (7 am – 11 am)

A detailed program schedule will be posted prior to arrival.

Room and Board

Participants who are not commuting are housed in West Campus Suites, Truman’s newest and most comfortable residence hall.  Because attendees will be a mix of commuting and non-commuting students, and because we want to afford attendees the flexibility to take their meals on campus, in the community, or from food they have brought on their own, the housing package does not include meals. However, meals can be obtained at very affordable rates in the on-campus residence halls, the Mainstreet Market,in the Student Union, or in nearby establishments.


A shuttle service to and from the Kansas City International Airport (MCI) or the Kirksville Airport (IRK) is available.  The shuttle from Kansas City is $75 round trip.  The shuttle from the Kirksville Airport is free.  Airfare to Kirksville can be booked through Cape Air and is $52 each way from St. Louis to Kirksville.  Kirksville flights can be booked through major online services as part of larger itineraries connecting through St. Louis, or separately through Cape Air.  Directions for ground transportation will be included with your welcome packet prior to arrival.  For those who live near an AMTRAK-serving city, AMTRAK serves LaPlata, Missouri, 10 miles south of Kirksville via the Southwest Chief (LA – Chicago).  Call our office for recommendations on the options that are best for you!

For More Information Contact:

The Institute for Academic Outreach
Truman State University
100 E Normal Ave
McClain Hall 303
Kirksville MO  63501

(660) 785-5406