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Appears in:
Page: 6811 (abstract only)
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0558

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain

EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, LEADERSHIP, AND ZOMBIES: THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE AS A WINDOW INTO EDUCATIONAL CHANGE

D. Burgess1, P. Newton1, A. Riveros2

1University of Saskatchewan (CANADA)
2Western University (CANADA)
In this paper, we reflect on the development and delivery of a graduate-level course in a Canadian university department academically focused on the administration, leadership, and management of schools, universities, and other educational organizations. Moreover, we establish groundwork under-girding the use of the zombie apocalypse trope in organizational analysis generally, and specifically in our own field of study as a thought experiment enabling students to articulate proposals for radical change in education systems. We begin by providing context. We identify key concepts germane to the zombie; we explore the use of the zombie and the zombie apocalypse in disciplines beyond literature, cinema, and media; and next offer a brief account of our own experiences using the zombie apocalypse trope in our teaching including an annotated exploration of themes and content we employed. Finally, we comment on (a) the conceptual, structural, and social challenges we face as administrators of educational programming when presented with (or invited to articulate) proposals for radical change, and (b) the benefit gleaned from overlaying the zombie apocalypse as a tool for seeing beyond these challenges.

A zombie is a reanimated corpse, void of cognition or motivation save a relentless hunger for human flesh. While human in form, zombies lack characteristics that might otherwise offer them membership in humankind. This definition is a composite of those provided by others (cf. Brooks, 2003; Drezner, 2011; Ermentrout & Ermentrout, 2014; Nasiruddin, Halabi, Dao, Chen, & Brown, 2013; Stalnaker, 2003). We begin by assuming they do not exist, except in the context of the humanities as characters in horror media, the mythology of several ancient and some contemporary cultures (consider the concept’s West African etymological origins and longstanding voodoo beliefs in Haiti), and as a novel metaphor designed to invoke critical thinking or philosophical debate.

For centuries, stories of perverse etiology have been used to provoke alternative modes of reasoning on otherwise benign topics. The perverseness of a zombie apocalypse trope captivates (Stratton, 2011) and authors in several fields of study employ the trope in novel ways to achieve particular juxtapositional or critical analysis goals (Drezner, 2011). For our purposes, course-based analysis of the zombie apocalypse—as manifest in popular media including music videos, television series, movies, and novels—has offered graduate students a novel opportunity to engage questions of educational organizational analysis in the context of pervasive or widespread social, economic, and political change, and similarly engage in questions of radical change in education systems. From the outset of this project, it has been our assumption that employing as a background a myth (… story, trope, call it what you will) of the wide-scale disruption of civil society permits students to more readily investigate or consider the possibilities of what education systems might be if unconstrained by existing social structures. We sought to permit our students the freedom to explore the zombie apocalypse as means of better understanding what remains important in educational organizations (schools, teacher unions/professional associations, universities etc.) when structure disappears. We comment on student successes and challenges.
@InProceedings{BURGESS2016EDU,
author = {Burgess, D. and Newton, P. and Riveros, A.},
title = {EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, LEADERSHIP, AND ZOMBIES: THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE AS A WINDOW INTO EDUCATIONAL CHANGE},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.0558},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.0558},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {6811}}
TY - CONF
AU - D. Burgess AU - P. Newton AU - A. Riveros
TI - EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, LEADERSHIP, AND ZOMBIES: THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE AS A WINDOW INTO EDUCATIONAL CHANGE
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.0558
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 6811
EP - 6811
ER -
D. Burgess, P. Newton, A. Riveros (2016) EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION, LEADERSHIP, AND ZOMBIES: THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE AS A WINDOW INTO EDUCATIONAL CHANGE, ICERI2016 Proceedings, p. 6811.
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