10:54 AM

Faculty Talk Zombies at Comic-Con Panel

By Zoee Simmons

A team of Cal State San Marcos faculty created and presented the panel “Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Do You Have the Guts?” at San Diego Comic-Con last month. The panelists – sociology professors Matthew Atherton and Sheri-Lynn Kurisu and moderator Allison Carr, an academic transitions librarian – used zombie stories to explain social institutions and explore ways inequality is reproduced.

They worked in collaboration with CSU Bakersfield professor Zachary Hays, Skybound Entertainment Editor Amanda LaFranco and Skydance Interactive Vice President Creative Shawn Kittelsen, who work on projects associated with “The Walking Dead.”

Inspired by the zombie sociology course that Kurisu teaches and “The Walking Dead” expertise from LaFranco and Kittlesen, the team created their panel based on examples that would engage the audience while also sparking deeper discussion about theory and research.

“We were able to help a casual audience learn in a fun way where they did not feel like they were in a classroom,” Atherton said.

The group created an interactive panel by integrating Poll Everywhere, a system that allowed the audience to answer questions using their phones. They challenged the audience with “several scenarios that involved ethical dilemmas set in a fictional zombie apocalypse. The scenarios involved issues of community, survival and punishment,” Atherton said.

By using engaging examples from popular culture, the panelists were able to discuss their academic knowledge and relevant contemporary social issues in a fun and interesting way.

“I am happy to say that our panel at San Diego Comic-Con filled all 160 seats in our room,” Atherton said.

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Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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