Economics + Harry Potter – Interview with Dr. Brian O’Roark

Aug 3, 2020 | books, culture

Welcome to The Not Old Better Show, Smithsonian Associates Inside Science Series, I’m Paul Vogelzang and this is episode #467.  

As part of our Smithsonian Associates Inside Science & Technology series, we are joined today by author, professor, and superhero educator, Dr. J. Brian O’ Roark.  Dr. O’Roark is a superhero educator, professor of economics, a tough subject to teach, known as the dismal science. Like many of you, I took my fair share of economics classes, and had I been offered a class like this…well, let’s just say it would not have been “The Dismal Science” any longer.  You will love our conversation, and presentation, by Dr. J. Brian O’Roark, who will change the entire subject of economics when he appears via Zoom at the Smithsonian Associates, August 4, 2020.

And, speaking of economics, the Harry Potter novels may seem like a strange perspective from which to view economics. In a realm filled with magic, we might expect the economic problems that we Muggles face to disappear in a puff of smoke. But even the Boy Who Lived has to come to grips with fiscal reality. Instead of divination class, Harry should have signed up to study the economics of the magical world.

Delving into topics including monetary systems, black markets, corruption, labor issues, human-capital development, utility theory, and more, economist Brian O’Roark investigates how economics pervades the Potterverse. In fact, that irritation in Harry’s scar is probably not just caused by the return of you-know-who. It is also brought on by the Subject That Must Not Be Named. The evening offers the perfect way for wizards of all ages to explore the power of economics.

Brian O’Roark is a university professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, a co-author of Essentials of Economics, author of Why Superman Doesn’t Take Over The World, and editor of Superheroes and Economics, and is our guest today, via internet phone.

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