Kicking off KIE Ethics Week with Ethics in Film

Kicking off KIE Ethics Week with Ethics in Film

Article contributed by KIE Social Media Coordinator, Sonia Rodriguez 

Join The Kegley Institute of Ethics and Campus Programming for “Ethics in Film” September 14th, 2021, at 7:00 P.M. PST via Zoom. This event is for CSUB Students only. Contact KIE at for details. 

As a part of Ethics Week, The Kegley Institute of Ethics will be hosting “Ethics in Film” featuring the 2013 film, Iron Man 3. The film follows Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. and his struggles dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after the destruction of New York City, seven months prior. Although the film follows the superhero formula, the themes of U.S. foreign policy, xenophobia, and the military-industrial complex are present in the film.

Dr. Kallee McCullough, Assistant Director of KIE, talks about the film and how movies help develop our ethical identity.

How can we teach ethics through films?

There’s a lot of research out there on how you can develop ethics education and have it be sustained over time. So, not just thinking about ethics in the classroom but living ethical lives outside of the classroom and for this event, in particular, I would say it helps us develop ethical awareness. We consume a lot of media and sometimes we don’t question it and think about what was ethical or unethical within that particular media. This [event] is just another way to give students that opportunity to think about ethical issues. My hope is that students will take this experience and think about it when consuming other media.

What can students expect from this event and the post-film discussion?

The post-film discussion is more of an organic conversation that is developed by the students rather than a debate. Students can ask questions either by speaking or typing in the zoom chat. It is a conversation where everybody contributes their knowledge, themes that stuck out to them in the movie, and if they had prior knowledge or research or news reports about the relevant topics. The conversations develop organically depending on what students contribute.

Do you believe it is easier to see ethical themes with movies like Iron Man 3 or superhero movies in general?

I wouldn’t use “easier,” I feel like documentary-style movies are geared to getting you to think about things more critically like last year’s KIE Ethics in Film movie 13th about incarceration, it was developed to make you question the history of incarceration in our society. Iron Man 3, I think the ethical themes are a little more hidden. So, it’s going to take more calling attention to those themes.

With ethics, you find that it’s not always black and white. You find yourself in the gray area. Whether in movies or in what you’re doing at work and school so that’s a really important aspect of ethics that everyone should understand and especially in our students, it’s not always clear what the right path is.

What The Kegley Institute tries to do is maintain that constant exposure and awareness of ethical thinking. By having that continuity, it should have an impact on students thinking more. If you have never thought or considered ethics at all you’re less likely to think about it but if you’re exposed to it and build your own ethics tool kit and ethical identity, then you can understand your values are and what you think is more important ethically.