‘Zombie Outbreak’ prepares students for disaster



Amanda Knauer

When the zombie apocalypse strikes Kent, will students be ready to react?

A new course, Zombie Outbreak, offered through the College of Public Health, will teach students how to survive the zombie apocalypse and other disasters, and keep their families and friends safe.

“The Zombie Outbreak course takes an exciting look at what might happen if a zombie outbreak hit Kent, Ohio,” said John Staley, assistant professor in the College of Public Health, “and what really takes place when the public health emergency management response system is tasked with dealing with any crisis event, be it a natural disaster or man-made event.”

Staley will be co-teaching the course with Chris Woolverton, professor of epidemiology/biostatistics.

The idea for a zombie course was discussed periodically, Staley said. With a combination of efforts involving Staley, Woolverton and Sonia Alemagno, dean of the College of Public Health, the new course was born.

Staley said that because of the increase in disasters around the world, including the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it is imperative that students know how to respond to them appropriately.

“This requires the public health emergency management system to be constantly vigilant and prepared for any emergency event,” Staley said. “This too requires that we educate the next group of public health professionals to be ready for any event.”

As the title of the course describes, the course will also involve the zombie apocalypse.

“Students will participate in a zombie outbreak investigation that occurs right here in our backyard of Kent, Ohio, acting as detectives to determine the cause and figure out how to stop the outbreak before it is too late,” Staley said.

Ryan Katz, senior news major, registered for the course the morning he heard about it.

“I expect it to be more situationally driven than people expect,” Katz said. “I am sure some people expect a crash course on zombie war tactics, but this class should go more in depth on a medical, situational, and tactical aspect all together.”

Desneiges Wooten, sophomore criminology and justice studies major, is also signed up for the course.

“I’ve always been a huge zombie fan,” Wooten said. “It’s probably one of the nerdy things about me.”

While Wooten is looking forward to the actual zombie portion of the class, Katz is looking at all aspects of it.

“I want to take out of this class a very unique experience. Something I can tell my children someday,” Katz said. “I hope the class strengthens my awareness if a disaster occurs, as that is the primary objective of this class as it relates to the College of Public Health at Kent State.”

The course is a hybrid course, meaning there is both an online component as well as in-class sessions. The first class date is March 7. As of Feb. 10, 79 openings were still available in the class. The course number is Public Health 20195.

“This will be an exciting course for students, but also a wonderful opportunity for the College of Public Health to showcase what we are really about — protecting the public,” Staley said.

Contact Amanda Knauer at [email protected].