Using the Walking Dead to Teach Ethics
One of the student learner outcomes for Morehead State University’s First Year Seminar is to articulate the ethical consequences of decisions or actions. I have always loved our discussions about ethics, because the theme for my particular FYS is “From the Walking Dead to Superheroes.” I find that comic book characters offer a lot of opportunity to discuss ethics and over the years my students have explored a variety of ethical questions from the death penalty to vigilantism to corporate greed. Of course, that last may be inspired by the fact that one of the ways I introduce ethics uses this video about Monsters Inc, but then it might simply be that a lot of comics feature that theme (Batman, Green Arrow, Flash, etc.).
This year our FYS program introduced a new element. We were required to take our students through a formal process, including some form of written assessment, that demonstrated our students had used the MSU critical thinking formula (Monitor assumptions, Scrutinize evidence, Uncover solutions) to articulate ethical consequences. We were offered some packages addressing issues such as conspiracy theories, reporters, and police, but none of these felt right to me. I really didn’t want to step out of our comic book universes to simply go through some made up process. That seemed like a recipe for disengagement to me. Also, my students are working on projects they will share with middle school students as part of our service learning focus. Why not make this lesson an opportunity to model the kinds of ideas I would like them to address?