I have several times taught a course on folklore, pop culture, the fantasy genre, and social justice. The course has included some combination of sites in England, Wales, and Scotland. Here are some examples of the hands-on and immersive activities from these courses:
- mining UK museums for evidence of both British colonialism and the various forms of resistance to it;
- visiting the Warner Brothers Harry Potters Studios Experience in Watford, England, with a critical eye on how it (further) commercializes the novels and films and how the Harry Potter phenomenon culls from British folklore traditions;
- a tour of east London street art led by a former street artist, followed by a workshop in the creation of street art;
- staying overnight in a Scottish castle and learning about its history and the family folklore from the current occupants;
- intensive lessons in the languages of the Celtic Fringe (Welsh, Cornish, Manx, and/or Scots Gaelic) paired with consideration of the experiences of the internally colonized peoples in the UK;
- touring Blackfriars Kirkyard (cemetery) in Edinburgh, Scotland – it is both the scene of mass grave-robbings that provided cadavers for early university anatomy courses and the site of many graves of people with suspiciously Harry Potter-ish names;
- visiting Neolithic sites (standing stones, stone circles, cairns, etc.);
- spending an afternoon of individual contemplation, reflection, writing/sketching, etc. in the ruins of Tintern Abbey in rural Wales; and
- meeting with members of various immigrant, queer, working-class, and religious minority groups in the UK to learn about their organizations, practices, and the social stigmas they face.
I have also been developing new course concepts for Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, and Romania) and the Canadian Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island).
My own study abroad experience was in Iceland, and it was a hugely transformative part of my education. I never believed it would be possible for me to participate, but there are numerous opportunities and many sources of funding available. I strongly encourage every student to study abroad!
In the course of my work in global learning at the University of Oregon, Cal Poly, and Gustavus Adolphus College, I have also engaged in site visits, faculty/staff seminars, program-development travel, and other related work in these countries: Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tunisia, and Wales.