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Students circle around a small fire at Woodbury University. (Tim Berger / Burbank Leader / August 22, 2014)

Students at Woodbury University began classes on Friday with a "Welcome Week" full of lively activities — but also a focus on the dead.

This year, Woodbury plans to partner with Burbank Public Library's "One Book, One Community" program and adopt Max Brooks' "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War," making it a requirement that all freshmen read the book, said Shari Gibbons, chief marketing officer for the university.

The novel features personal accounts following a global war against a zombie plague and the possible social, political, religious and environmental consequences of a zombie apocalypse.

On Saturday, the college will screen the film version of the book, starring Brad Pitt, in the alumni quad. In weeks to come, college counselors will host a talk on kinemortophobia — or the fear of zombies.

Gibbons said the talk will be used as a tool to address incoming students' transition to college life. Another event will feature a panel of zombie experts to discuss the book from an academic perspective.

The college also plans to hold a "Zombie Emergency Preparedness Week" focused on how students can create real-life emergency plans.

To mark the private university's 130th anniversary, Woodbury officials plan to invite alumni to the Burbank campus in October to celebrate with the current faculty and staff.

Also, college officials launched a new website at the beginning of the school year as well as a new area of study.

On top of its three schools — architecture, business and media culture and design — Woodbury University now offers a new college — transdisciplinarity — allowing students to combine any two majors that the university offers under that banner, Gibbons said, adding that one official pairing is politics and history.

"As the university continues to grow, one of the main focuses is transdisciplinarity, and how we're weaving that through all of the programs for all of our students," she said.