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December 12, 2019

By Denise Russell, Director of Publications & Marketing

Professional Development Event Thwarts Zombie Attack

Republished from Capital Magazine, Fall 2019

The brain-craving zombie virus attacked all, turning everyone in its path into white-faced, bloodied and lethargic walking dead. Their Zombie Lives Matter movement brought new meaning to the word “tragedy.”

But thanks to Dr. Steve Clymer, chemistry wizard extraordinaire, and a lemonade anti-virus potion, the zombie outbreak was cured and the Capital campus was made safe again.

All in the name of immersive, cross-disciplinary learning.

(FYI: In 2018, an invasion of extraterrestrial anemic hippies in search of human blood also ended peacefully. The next event is a secret.)

From journalism and electronic media students, to theater makeup artists, aspiring actors and campus police, dozens took part in bringing the fictional crisis to life. On-air personalities from WXCU, Capital’s student radio station, took to the air to broadcast events as they unfolded. Chimes staffers did interviews and took photographs. Film students shot video. Two public relations students held mock news conferences. Live updates were posted to social media.

Spearheaded by Kelly Messinger, assistant professor of English and advisor for The Chimes, Capital’s student newspaper, the Zombie Apocalypse turned into a teachable moment and a professional development event involving students from multiple disciplines.

“Learning doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture,” Messinger said. “Active, engaged students enjoy applying what they learn. Astute instructors enjoy thinking of ways to make students think critically. The zombie scenario caused students to think on their feet.”

Details of the actual activity were planned and kept secret by a small group of faculty and students. Additional student participants were told only that an event was going to take place. How they handled it was up to them.

The result – in addition to quashing the Zombie Apocalypse before irreversible damage could be done – was a real-time lesson in critical thinking, crisis communication, responsible fact gathering during a breaking news event and calm thinking on the fly. It also was a lot of fun.

A student-produced video of the event, “#CAPZOM – Zombies Take Over Capital,” earned honorable mention in the documentary category from the Ohio Valley National Association of Television Arts & Sciences.