by Rehna Sheth

Unlike our peers majoring in biology or engineering, in SPIA there is no strict path of classes you must take. The obscure range of classes SPIA students can take can be a good thing, allowing us to broaden our horizons, but it can be difficult not knowing what to take next. If you are anything like me, figuring out what classes to take next is confusing. So, I wanted to share my insight into my two favorite SPIA courses I’ve taken and hopefully help you in choosing your next semester classes.

  1. American (US) Foreign Policy with Dr. Gallagher

Before taking this class, I thought I had a decent knowledge on US Foreign Policy issues, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I learned so much useful foreign policy in this class, I would honestly take it again. Dr. Gallagher starts the first half of the semester by reviewing the US’s role in foreign affairs from WW2 until now, including the Cold War, Vietnam, and the War on Terror. The second half of the semester, we touched on a variety of themes such as soft power, foreign policy decision making, the role of specific actors in controlling U.S. foreign policy such as the president and congress, hypocrisy, and the Middle East. Finally, the capstone project of the semester is an interactive and engaging debate on an interesting topic in current international affairs. I did my debate on the rise of China, little did I know that that project would just be the beginning of my interest in Sino-US relations and it helped me in my internship at the India China and America Institute this past summer. Besides the interesting information we learned throughout the course, what makes this class a must take is Dr. Gallagher’s exceptional ability to explain the most complicated foreign policy issues and theories in a simple and easy to understand manner, which simultaneously made me love foreign policy more and enjoy my International Affairs major. Dr. Gallagher’s passionate, caring and engaging personality makes this class what it is. And for me, this class helped guide me in deciding which career path to take.

  1. International Law with Dr. Carmichael

Similarly, Dr. Carmichael is a very knowledgeable, passionate and welcoming professor and does an excellent job dissecting complicated international law cases into understandable components. Dr. Carmichael’s visual presentations and funny stories also make learning the material fun. Throughout the semester Dr. Carmichael takes us through many different noteworthy historical international law disputes and discusses a few important conflict resolution processes. What makes this class enjoyable is the moot court simulations once a week. Dr. Carmichael designed the class in a unique way so that throughout the semester every student gets a chance to play the role of the prosecution, the defense, or a judge. The moot court trials consist of a series of back and forth opening statements and rebuttals where students integrate actual case law from the weekly case studies to present the strongest arguments and win the judges’ favor. If you’re planning on going to law school or just like learning about international disputes, this is the class for you.

I loved both of these classes and felt that I learned a great deal about international affairs that will be useful in my future career. However, I won’t sugar coat it. These two classes are not going to be your “easy A.” You will have to work hard, do your readings and make an effort, but it is all worth it to learn from two of the best professors SPIA has. I hope this helps give you a better insight into what SPIA classes to take next, and like always, go dawgs!