by Zoe Booth

The thing I most dreaded when I entered college were the big lecture halls. The impersonal, cold feeling of sitting in a room with over 100 people listening to a professor read PowerPoints for 50 minutes sounded incredibly unappealing to me. This I why I absolutely dreaded my Intro to International Relations course the spring of my freshmen year.

As an International Affairs major, International Relations is a required course, and while I knew the subject material would keep me interested I hated the fact that the class was over one-hundred people. I chose to sign up for Dr. Gallagher’s class based on the good reviews of her I had received from other SPIA students. These reviews claimed that Dr. Gallagher ran an interactive class and she was always enthusiastic about the material and excited to be there, but after I registered and there were over one-hundred people in my class I still had my doubts about how “interactive” a class that size could be.

I can honestly say my doubts of her abilities to make the class interesting and interactive were proven entirely incorrect. On the first day, Dr. Gallagher entered the classroom full of energy and confidence, ready to make the most of our fifty minutes of class every other day. She immediately began to list off her expectations for the class and, let me say, these expectations were much more involved than a typical lecture hall class required. She explained that she expected us to attend class every day and that she would be taking attendance, she said that participation was mandatory in order to make a good grade in the course whether that be through talking in class or posting frequently on the discussion board, and lastly she introduced the piece of the course that set Intro to International Relations apart from any other lecture hall class I have ever and probably will ever take in my life: Statecraft, an online simulation which we would be participating in every week.

Her expectations, while surprising and demanding of us, made me feel like I had made the right decision of professors for this required course, but her expectations were not the only thing that set this class and Dr. Gallagher apart from most other classes and professors I have had in my time here at UGA and in SPIA. Dr. Gallagher made an effort to learn all one-hundred-and-twenty of our names, she taught us the importance of respecting titles and accomplishments of women in the field (and all fields) just as much as we do men’s, and she implemented her personal research and expertise into her lessons, making them more personal and interesting. Dr. Gallagher went above and beyond to make lessons memorable and exciting, and I feel like I learned and retained valuable information that I will carry with me to my upper-level courses. She is just one of the many reasons I am so thankful to be a SPIA student and I look forward to taking more of her classes.