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Andrew Slack - Civic Engagement Insights from the Harry Potter Alliance
Lessons learned from an outside-of-the-box approach to educating and mobilizing young people across the world by using parallels from the Harry Potter books.
About The Speaker(s)
Andrew Slack created and co-founded the Harry Potter Alliance in 2005. Known for his inspirational speaking at dozens of Harry Potter fandom events, he has given keynote addresses at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, the Millennial Mega Mashup, a talk at TEDx Rome, and spoken at South by Southwest, Comic Con, Educating Our Democracy in the Digital Age hosted by former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Futures of Entertainment, National Conference for Media Reform, the Annenberg Presidential Learning Center, and symposiums at MIT, Brandeis, and Tufts University. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University, Andrew is dedicated to the building of a movement that harnesses the energy of popular culture, modern myth, and social media to transform our lives both personally and collectively.
You can Follow him on Twitter at @andrewslack.
- "Cultural acupuncture": Fan activism and the Harry Potter Alliance
- Nerdfighters: "bringing nerds together to increase awesome and decrease world suck"
- The Imagine Better Project: a grassroots approach to harnessing the energy of popular culture, modern mythology and social media for social change
- VlogBrothers: YouTube vlog series run by brothers John & Hank Green; topics range from video games to science to pop culture and original songs
- Novelist John Green uses social media to push unfinished book to #1 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
- Avaaz.org: campaigning community bringing people-powered politics to decision-making worldwide
- International Quidditch Association and Wizard Rock: two examples of real-life actualization of Harry Potter culture
- LeakyNews.com: originally a Harry Potter fansite; now an pop culture news site that relies on user-submitted content
- (08:20) If Harry [Potter] were in our world [...] wouldn't he fight for justice the way he does in the books? What if we could take the entire Harry Potter fan community and turn it into a "Dumbledore's Army" for our world?
- (18:12) I'm curious what you see as both the opportunities as well as the challenges of expanding to other fandoms? What kinds of fandoms, what kinds of moments seem to work well for movement-building?
- (25:34) I get that question a lot from people when they hear about the Imagine Better Project or they saw our Hunger Games campaign: 'How do you think you're going to move into all these different fandoms?'
- (28:36) I'm curious about your thoughts about the balance between doing things in the world--having Harry Potter Alliance create social change--and also creating change in participants?
- (34:50) How have schools and colleges received HPA or engaged with you? And, also [...] you've used two words that are really powerful in terms of motivating young people, which are 'engagement' and 'authenticity'. And those are two words that--in terms of education and schooling--those are hugely problematic. What sort of lessons are there?
- (39:04) It seems like the Harry Potter fandom is one where that intergenerational dynamic has worked pretty well, but I was curious to hear, either Lauren or Andrew, what you thought about that.
- (44:58) What would have happened without the Internet and Web 2.0 to this energy that was created by the books and the stories? How instrumental has that been?
- (49:24) How many countries is "Dumbledore's Army" operating in? What's your reach?
- (51:05) Does HPA worry about the disparate nature of the issues that you're tackling and would it make more sense to focus on a single topic like LGBT issues and rights?