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Collat School of Business Professor Annetta Dolowitz strides into the classroom in a long, black wizard’s robe, class notes in one hand and the sorting hat in the other.

“Who’s ready to be sorted,” she shouts as students snap to attention and take their seats.

The business school’s newest leadership class blends two things millennial students love most: participation and Harry Potter. The brainchild of professors Dolowitz and Barbara Wech, PhD, the class — MG 309, or “Hogwarts School of Leadership” — walks students through an academic exploration of leadership theories and practice, but through the lens of one of the most beloved stories in fiction.

“It’s about taking these concepts and putting them in a context that the students can relate to. That makes it so much more accessible to them,” says Dolowitz. “The students learn to really apply the concepts because they understand what we’re talking about. They come to view these characters in a new way, to understand leadership and to see it in action.”

The class applies team-based learning in a flipped classroom environment. Students are expected to have read the entire Harry Potter series or seen the movies beforehand. “This is not a class where students are going to spend the semester reading the series or watching movies,” Dolowitz says. “We tell them on the first day that if they don’t know what we’re talking about when say things like ‘muggle,’ “horcrux’ and ‘sorting hat,’ then they need to drop the class. They won’t do well.”

On the first day of class, students are divided into their Hogwarts Houses, fictional living and learning communities based on the houses in the book series: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, each known for the unique personal qualities of its members. After the students are placed in their houses/teams, a team member reaches into the sorting hat to discover their house. The teams quickly realize they have now joined their “house members” for the remainder of the semester. Each house works on team-based applications and exercises.

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Each week, a student is assigned to be the “house prefect,” in accordance with the books, and must represent his or her house on in-class discussions and presentations. Points are awarded to houses for a variety of things, including insightful remarks regarding the leadership materials, displaying characteristics of their houses, and engaging with other houses regarding leadership theories being discussed at the time. At the end of the semester, Dolowitz and Wech tally the points to determine the winning house. During the semester, a Triwizard tournament takes place where the winning house is declared winner of the House Cup, an award given to the most outstanding team to apply the various tenets of the leadership theories discussed in class during the semester.

Teams also compete with each other through “duels,” during which students debate leadership lessons that parallel duels between characters in the novels.

Before class, students are expected to complete reading assignments on leadership fundamentals and theories, which are the basis for in-class discussions on how the materials apply to their favorite characters. In class, Dolowitz and Wech prod the students on what they’ve learned.

What makes Harry a leader? What about Lord Voldemort? Hermione Granger?

“I don’t think Voldemort is a leader,” one student says.

“You think that now but at the end of the semester, you might change your mind,” Dolowitz responds.

Dolowitz and Wech dissect leadership topics ranging from self-awareness and communication to ability and decision making. Lesson plans include debating leadership principles, analyzing Harry Potter promotional photos for leadership cues, and defending characters that best fit various leadership styles.

Students are encouraged to wear their favorite Harry Potter gear to class – and win some house points in the process. One student this past semester brought a wand to every class.

“They really get into it,” says Dolowitz. “The entire class engages students and really involves them in the learning process.”