Equipping for disaster

Florida college offers zombie class to explore the nature of consciousness

By Dakota Cantwell

Rollins College in Florida offers a course called “Zombies, Serial Killers, and Mad Men” on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for students to learn and explore the about the nature of consciousness.

Eric Smaw, professor of philosophy, teaches the course and has watched it grow and shape over the past few years.

In an interview with NPR, Smaw said “I came upon the idea because I was trying to figure out, what is the nature of consciousness?”

According to Smaw, the course initially started as a night class where they talked about zombies in the witching hour.

In the interview Smaw described the class as “So most people, and students included, take consciousness to simply be awareness. But scientists are now thinking of consciousness as the result of the neurological energy in our brains. So in the class, we go inside of the brain. And we talk about the evolved brain and the unevolved brain to give students the tools to talk about things like consciousness and freedom and responsibility.”

Smaw went on to explain that in modern times we’ve come describe a section of our consciousness as our “zombie brain” or an autopilot that takes care of things that we don’t have to think to hard about.

Smaw spoke about the Kenneth Parks case with NPR. The case involved. In the case, Parks zoned out and killed his father-in-law.

“After looking into his history, we find that he had a history of sleepwalking. And the case is referred to as homicidal somnambulism, meaning homicide while sleepwalking” Smaw said.

Smaw ended the interview by discussing his advice for those looking to survive the zombie apocalypse.

“So if a zombie apocalypse hits, you’ll need food and water, shelter and, of course, ammunition to fight off the zombie attack” Smaw said. “And the place that I can think of that would have plenty of it and a lot of space for you to move around is Walmart. So I often tell people, go to Walmart. Hunker down. And fight it out for as long as you can.”


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