MSU Uses Zombie Apocalypse Survival to Teach Social Welfare

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Can social work students learn about human behavior in response to catastrophe using a sci-fi zombie apocalypse? That's what University of Michigan School of Social Work professor Glen Stutzky plans to demonstrate in his summer section undergraduate class "Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Catastrophes & Human Behavior," says Detroit CBS Local. Here are details about how the college will use a simulated theoretical event to teach practical applications.

* Last May, the Emergency Preparedness and Response section of Center for Disease Control, offered a "Social Media: Emergency Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" guide. Playing on movie depictions of flesh-eating zombies, the CDC offered survival instructions. Assuming that in a zombie invasion, disease would run rampant from exposure, injury and saliva-borne contamination, they gave steps on how to stay safe. They advised making a go-bag personal care kit (curiously similar to the emergency kits people are advised to make in case of natural disaster or extreme weather).

* Tagging on that response plan, says Stutzky, he has expanded the personal emergency plan to global response simulation. The seven-week MSU class, which starts on May 14 and is open for enrollment, will encompass a variety of core subjects relevant to future social workers: social welfare, social policy, service delivery, research, theory, and practice; basic social worker values and concepts.

* The MSU class will touch on such diverse subjects as history, anthropology, geology, government emergency response and basic medical issues and ethics.

* In human history, people have endured killer hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, plagues. Stutzky points to the Black Death which wiped out one third to one half of Europe and the Shaanxi (Shensi) China earthquake of 1556 (which USCG says killed 830,000 people). Even beyond recorded history was the asteroid impact of 65 million years ago, the Ice Age and other disasters. Some wiped out entire civilizations.

* On his Youtube video, Stutzky says that "in times of catastrophe some people find their humanity. Others lose it." He says that while zombies may be an imaginary topic, it will make the class more interesting for students. It will also give a practical application. Studying disaster, we get a glimpse of how humans behave, think and interact under pressure. The decisions they make decide their fate.

* In the course, students will use what's been learned from those types of incidents, plus their own ingenuity to navigate a zombie pandemic simulator. They will be assigned groups based in various parts of the United States. They'll have to work together, learn interdependence and pit their wits against the predators to survive.

Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes about people, places, events and issues in her home state of "Pure Michigan."

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