Back then, I was teaching philosophy at the University of Tennessee while finishing my PhD there, and I used Zootopia in two applied ethics courses to introduce the moral and psychological aspects of bias to my students. In the time that has passed, I’ve finished that degree and jumped to a different institution (I’m at the University of South Florida as a postdoctoral researcher right now).
I’ve also learned a few things from the feedback I received on the old draft and from my presentations of the material in different venues. In light of those developments, it seems appropriate to provide a little more material on Zootopia for your perusal.
Check it out after the break.
- “Moral Psychology and Prejudice in Disney’s Zootopia” (2018 Version)
This is the updated version of the paper that was shared through this site last year. I wasn’t able to incorporate every edit because I wanted to keep the paper to a manageable length. If I’m going to assign it as a reading in my courses, then it can’t be too long or overly technical. Even so, the refinements and extra content ensure that this version is more polished than its predecessor.
- “Psychological Obstacles to Acting Ethically”
This is an overview of the course unit in which I have used Zootopia. It has been hosted on The Deviant Philosopher – a site that hosts teaching resources for philosophy content that deviates from mainstream western philosophy – since it passed editorial review in during the fall. If you want to get some insight into how Zootopia fits into the broader course content I teach, then give this a look.
- Zootopia PowerPoint (2018 Version)
This is an updated version of the PowerPoint that I used when I presented the main material in my classes. If the paper seems a little too dense for your tastes, then you can view this to get the main highlights along with some iconic screenshots from the film. Additionally, I spend some considerable time examining one important scene in the film. My attempts to integrate the clip into the PowerPoint directly were not entirely successful, so here is a direct link to the relevant video clip.
- Zootopia PowerPoint as a Narrated VideoThis PowerPoint is similar to the one above but with one crucial difference: it includes audio narration of each slide. I tried to simulate what it would be like to be in the classroom when I presented the material, although obviously you won’t be able to raise your hand and ask questions. Even so, short of recording an actual class session, this is about as good a simulation of the classroom experience as I can offer. Be forewarned: this video version of the PowerPoint lasts for 62 minutes. So if you’re going to endure the whole thing, I’d advise getting a sandwich first. Or at least a pawpsicle.
Now before I sign off, I should address something important. Having discussed Zootopia with plenty of other people over the last year and gained some perspective from subsequent viewings of the film, I have a lot more to say about its subject matter than what’s presented in these materials. For instance, I took some heat from readers of the original paper (including from some of my students) because I criticized Nick’s moral character, but I haven’t been persuaded to change my view about him. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem appropriate to go on a lengthy tangent about that subject in the paper itself, so readers have to settle for a footnote.