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Calvin College Mixes Minecraft, Harry Potter and Maps for Innovative Class

In high school, playing Minecraft in class might get you detention. Doing so at Calvin College might get you an ‘A.’

In yet another example of why college is infinitely more awesome than high school, Calvin Geography Professor Jason VanHorn in January 2017 will teach a class known as “Minecraft to Marauder’s Map: Mapping Your World.”

The class incorporates pop culture to whet students’ interest in mapping technology. Available to first year students, the class will map the “infinite worlds of Minecraft,” as well as the secret passages and mystical nooks and crannies of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter book series.

The goal is ambitious: The class will explore “connection of maps with Christian faith” and use old and new technologies to better understand the world around them — from the link between landscapes and poverty to terrains and terrorism.

It’s heady stuff. After all, Van Horn is an accomplished geologist and geographer who has done extensive work mapping Michigan’s sand dunes.

But just because subjects are serious doesn’t mean they can’t be fun as well. After all, sometimes it takes a map to find yourself.

And that’s the specialty of Calvin and Michigan’s top private colleges and universities.

They do things different and help students chart their own path — because there’s more than one route to success.
Classes are smaller. Accomplished academics like VanHorn actually teach classes rather than delegate those duties to graduate students.

That helps tighten bonds and foster a sense of community that simply isn’t available at big state schools. Students are part of an incredible network of faculty and alumni that help every step of the way.

And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.


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