New MUN course includes trip to Disney World
It may be the most magical elective on earth: a new course at Memorial University includes a nine-day field trip to Disney World in Florida.
'Religion and Disney Parks' is a fourth-year course that looks at Disney through an academic lens, examining religious themes and ideas in the famous theme parks.
The course will be lead by Jennifer Porter, a religious studies professor who specializes in Disney and popular culture.
Porter has been teaching courses on religion and Disney at MUN for several years, and says it's a field that warrants careful study.
"When something is so popular and so pervasive, you need to take a look at it," she said.
"You can't just dismiss it and say 'Oh that's meaningless,' when it consumes such a large part of people's lives.
"Disney is huge — it's the biggest media production company in the world. This course is a way of bringing an academic light to something that's found in every child's Blue Ray player."
Students in the course will study religious theories related to Disney in the classroom for six weeks before heading down to Orlando over the midterm break.
While in Disney World, the students are expected to ride every ride, watch all the parades and fireworks displays, and take in every theatrical production. Students will make careful notes and present their research findings to the broader community when they return.
Porter said this type of hands-on field research is an invaluable experience.
"This will be one of the few opportunities for students here at MUN to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world," she said.
"There is no way to discount the power of actually being there. You can see things, you can touch things, you can hear things in a way that hearing your professor drone on about in the classroom will never compare to."
The course, which will be held in the winter of 2017, will cost roughly $2,500 per student, which includes tuition, park tickets, food, accommodation, and flights.
Porter's costs will be funded by the university.