The nature versus nurture question is an old one, and one Chinese lecturer found that it was so old, no one was signing up for her course on genetics.
No one, that is, until she began teaching the course using the plot lines and characters of the Harry Potter series.
Now, the course is oversubscribed.
The class at Sun Yat-sen University in the southern province of Guangdong looks at how our genetic makeup determines how we act in different situations.
In an interview with the Telegraph, lecturer (and Potter fan) Chen Suqin explained the types of genetic issues she can explore through the series’ plot points. For instance, both Harry and the Dark Lord Voldemort have blood from the house of Slytherin.
[But] Why is it Harry and Voldemort have totally opposite characters? Was it is because Harry was surrounded by his mother’s love inside her womb and when he was first born, while Voldemort’s mother was full of hatred during her pregnancy?
Other plots and magical characters — Dobby, Dumbledore, the Weasleys — will be used to show how our genetic makeup influences our social behavior.
“Genetics is often viewed as very boring and a dry topic by students,” Chen told the Telegraph. “But if they are Harry Potter fans, this course will help raise their curiosity and help them remember what they have learnt.”
And certainly China has no shortage of Potter fans. The government delayed the release last July of the Potter film Deathly Hallows 2, because it was worried it would hurt the box office attendance of the Communist Part’s 90th Anniversary celebration Epic, “Beginning of the Great Revival: The Founding of the Party.”
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- Stem cell breakthrough could bring cure for genetic diseases
- Genetically engineered mosquitoes to fight disease
- The naked mole rat’s genome is exposed on the internet
photo: A version of the Hogwarts coat of arms (Jakovche/Wikimedia)