Lessons the Undead Can Teach Us

Tuesday, October 11 2011

Written by Donna Emert

Whereas guerilla marketing comes at you from unexpected angles aiming to separate you from your money, zombie marketing lurches directly toward you and is pretty much interested only in your brain.

The tactic is so effective it has lately been deployed by venerable institutions like the Center for Disease Control.

Bill Smith, director of the Martin Institute and Programs in International Studies at the University of Idaho, also has found success with zombie marketing.

“For years I've wanted to teach a broad spectrum of students about how countries act and interact in the global system,” said Smith. “I wanted to bring in students from science, engineering, math, music, agriculture, sociology and other fields of study.”

“Ultimately, addressing global problems requires the engagement of folks from all corners of society and all fields of study,” Smith says. “If we can get a broad cross section of students used to speaking each other’s language, then we are that much better off.”

But when he offered honors seminars on global politics, they always filled up with international studies and political science majors. “So I proposed the Zombie Apocalypse and International Issues course,” he said. “It filled right up with all the students I wanted to attract.”

Students respond to a course that promises to speak the language of popular culture.

“The title of the class was basically the come-hither flag that then introduced me to more important and practical issues of how governments settle disagreements and create policy,” said Megan Licht, a bioscience major in the University Honors Program and current student in Zombies 404. “The class has helped me to see how world policies are made, enforced and most importantly, how they affect me.”

The mesmerizing horror/hilarity of zombie apocalypse provides a lens through which students can see the need for establishing global policies that allow nations to be proactive when international catastrophe happens.

“I think that the best part of taking a class like this is realizing that we really aren’t prepared, and that it’s our job, as up-and-coming citizens of the world, to change that,” said Licht.

Dan Drezner will present a Martin Forum titled, "Zombies and International Politics," at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, in the SUB Ballroom. Drezner is the author of "Theories of International Politics and Zombies."

The Martin Forum presentation is free and open to the living.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.