University of Oregon study abroad program connects “Harry Potter” and social justice

A study abroad program at the University of Oregon has Potter-enthusiast students excited and enthralled! It’s called “Fantasy on the Fringe” (also known as “Harry Potter in the UK”), and it allows students to study fantasy literature and pop culture while traveling in London and Edinburgh.

The aim of the month-long program is to show the value of fantasy and folklore in teaching social justice. It includes trips to festivals and marketplaces and even a day trip to J.K. Rowling’s childhood home!

Initially introduced in 2011, the “Fantasy on the Fringe” program is led by Roger Adkins, of the school’s International Studies Department. Adkins believes that students who grew up with the Harry Potter series are able to relate to the “powerful sense of social justice” it conveys. He goes on to say,

“I’ve begun to realize how foundational the (Harry Potter book series) is. Things people grow up reading […] set a generational ethos. You can say something from Harry Potter to (a peer) and it carries an enormous amount of meaning and reference that’s special to that generation.”

Anthropology student Claire Tweedy, who participated in the program last year, said that she gained a greater understanding of human nature in society. She also praised the value of Potter to fantasy literature: “I think [Harry Potter] made [fantasy literature] very accessible to everyone and made it more normal – a little less on the fringe of what we consider normal.”

The deadline to apply for the “Fantasy on the Fringe” program is March 1, 2014.

Would you like to be a part of this study abroad program? Or have you participated in other Harry Potter courses at your own school? Let us know in the comments!

Catherine Lai

I have been a fan of Harry since 2000, a fan of MuggleNet since 2005, and a MuggleNet team member since 2013. I believe in the power of stories to bring people together, and nothing does that quite like Harry Potter. I live in Toronto, Canada.