Last semester when Bertena Varney, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Kathryne LeFevre, Librarian/Assistant Professor, attended Conjuration, a Harry Potter Convention in Atlanta, they didn’t realize they would receive so much recognition for their work in the SOC 235 Inequality in Society class also known as the “Harry Potter” class at Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College (SKYCTC).
Ms. Varney and Ms. LeFevre were invited to present at the convention about their collaboration to create a totally immersive Harry Potter class; but, they were not ready for the positive feedback they received during the presentation. They explained how the students are sorted into houses and work in those houses as a group the entire semester. They showed pictures of the students leading class discussions using topics from the Harry Potter books and then relating them to international social issues, along with possible solutions or little things that the class could do to help those affected by the issues or to help bring awareness to the issues. They shared projects that they participated in, such as More Love Letters, Stop Bullying Campaigns and more.
But the heart of the presentation came when comments from five students from the “Harry Potter” class, who also attended the convention, stood up and shared their experiences. Lizz Hancock, Kae Delph, Jackie Travis, Ronny Morris, and Drew Gumm all discussed how much they learned about the world and the inequalities in it and how they are now becoming active in various social campaigns to help with these issues. These students are also members of the local social activist group, Fandom of the Phoenix – Harry Potter Alliance.
When it was time for questions from the audience, one comment came through multiple times- “But this is at a community college?” “How does that work?”
Ms. Varney explained that SKYCTC is not just a community college; it is a college with a culture of caring. It is a place where we teach our students to look at things that they see every day – television, movies, books, music – and to look at them from a sociological perspective and use their sociological imagination to see how others feel and how they can help someone else.
This approach was very well received, even after the presentation, when they were interviewed by John Granger, the Dean of Harry Potter Scholars, for a MuggleNet Academia podcast, the 2nd largest Harry Potter podcast and website. They were asked by the host how the class was run, what the students thought, and at the end they also asked, “But this is a community college?”
Yes, SKYCTC is a community college, BUT it is so MUCH more than that! They have teachers that care and classes that engage the students.
After the podcast, Ms. Bertena and Ms. LeFevre were asked to submit their college to the list of colleges that teach Harry Potter courses on the MuggleNet Academia website [http://www.mugglenet.com/specialty-site/mugglenet-academia/]. SKYCTC is the ONLY community college listed there and they are one of only two Kentucky colleges on the list, the other being Morehead State University (Ms. Varney’s alma mater). It is impressive to see SKYCTC listed beside Yale, Duke, Stanford, Georgetown and more.
So, when people say that SKYCTC is “just” a community college, answer the way this group of teachers and students did – SKYCTC is a college that prepares students to think critically about their world and motivates them to make it better!