News in Brief

UCI To Host “Walking Dead” Course

Comics, merchandise, a hit television series — and now an in-depth academic program; Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” is making considerable strides for the horror genre.
Thanks in part to Utah educational tech giant Instructure, the University of California, Irvine, is offering a course entitled “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead.’” The first lecture of the course begins on Oct. 14th, which fans will note is the day after the premiere of the fourth season of AMC’s primetime zombie drama.
But, to critics’ chagrin, the course is not limited to study of the cannibalistic undead alone. The course is marketed as “Enroll and Survive,” and seeks to critically analyze the events of “The Walking Dead” as well as teachable elements of the show including public health, survival tactics, Darwinism and much more. Lectures are created and taught by four different lecturers from the physics, mathematics, public health and social sciences departments respectively.
Additionally, the course is in no way limited to UCI students. Utilizing Instructure’s “Canvas” platform and AMC’s official involvement, the course is available to anyone worldwide as a “Massive Open Online Course,” or MOOC. A simple visit to canvas.net/TWD is all it takes to enroll — and ensure a better chance of survival in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

OpenChem Earns Distance Education Award

UC Irvine was awarded a Distance Education Innovation Award by The National University Technology Network (NUTN) for its OpenCourseWare content development of Open Chemistry (OpenChem) last Tuesday, Sept. 17, during the annual conference NUTN Network 2013 in Albuquerque, N. M.
“OpenChem is a significant milestone for UC Irvine as we’re providing an in-depth study of chemistry to students outside of our university, giving them the opportunity to study as if they were a UCI student. Our video lectures are delivered by the most respected professors and researchers in the field of chemistry,” Kenneth C. Janda Ph.D, the dean of Physical Sciences at UCI, said.
All applications for the award were judged by criteria that included the potential for scalability and applicability for other providers, evidence of student and faculty satisfaction, and evidence of the effectiveness of the integration on the learning process. UC Irvine was chosen to receive the award specifically because of the broader applications of its OpenCourseWare, which include reaching a large number of students and institutions and making the entire undergraduate chemistry curriculum available to the public without charge.
The program was inspired by Doctor James S. Nowick, a professor of chemistry at UCI. OpenChem makes 15 quarter-length undergraduate and select graduate chemistry video lectures, more than 325 hours of lecture total, available to the public free of charge.
Even though no course credit is given for learning the material, OpenChem provides supplemental lecture material for interested students.
“It is an honor to have UC Irvine recognized for its OpenChem project,” Larry Cooperman, the director of UCI’s OpenCourseWare Initiative and president of the board of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, said.
“By releasing the full path of study as OpenCourseWare, UCI contributes its world-class resources in chemistry to advance the study of on-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects.”

History Professor on Latino History in America

Doctor Vicki L. Ruiz, a professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies in UC Irvine’s School of Humanities, appeared in Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) part one debut of their six-hour documentary special “Latino Americans” last Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.
“Latino Americans” is a six-hour series covering Latino history in the United States starting from the 1600s. According to PBS, the documentary series “is the first major documentary series for television to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape North America over the last 500-plus years and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S.” As of 2012, the census shows Hispanic Americans accounting for approximately 16.9 percent of the population in the United States of America.
“This series took four years to make and it features interviews with over a hundred Latinos,” Maria Hinojosa, a news anchor and reporter for National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS, said. Hinojosa spoke with Dr. Ruiz a week earlier in her weekly NPR show “Latino USA,”
During her time on “Latino USA,” Dr. Ruiz revealed that there is a historical amnesia when it comes to Latino history.
“Unfortunately, our schools have become the pressures they face in terms of preparing their students for tests that’s still very date-driven, and very driven by sort of conventional, East-coast narratives, [like] the idea that the first European settlement was Jamestown in 1607 when actually, of course, it’s Saint Augustine in 1565,” she said.
Another example of the historical amnesia, she points out in the PBS production, is the misconception that the first European language spoken in America was English, when in fact Spanish was the first.
“It is time the Latino American history be told,” Adriana Bosch, the producer of the PBS series, said. “Latinos are an integral part of the U.S., and this series shares the stories of a rich collection of people coming from so many different countries and backgrounds. It is the story of Latinos, and it is the story of America.”