Hunting for great professors for general elective classes is no easy task. We want to make sure elective classes are our GPA’s saving grace, and none of us want one that is as demanding as our major coursework. The instructors of these electives keep us interested and in good spirits. On top of all that, we want to know that we’ll actually gain something from these professors. So, if you’re a student at the University of Georgia, you might have heard these professors’ names buzzing around campus.
1. Thomas Biggs
Togas, Caesar and Vergil. You don’t have to dream of living in the Roman Empire to get a taste of the imperial era because Assistant Professor Biggs brings you back thousands of years with just his lectures. In his class, students study different arts and monuments of the Roman world. He wants students to get a deeper understanding of the ancient world and how its practices influenced current laws, scientific and medical vocabulary, and even Shakespeare. “There’s a difference between someone who knows their subject and someone who can teach, and Professor Biggs has both and it really shows,” senior Samuel Getty said. “He is extremely passionate and engaging and I enjoy going to his class.”
2. John Pickering
Associate Professor Pickering takes a completely novel style of conducting his Ecology 1000 class. For starters, how many teachers allow you to text them? Pickering expects his students to send him a quick text if they’re going to miss class. He understands that sometimes things come up and students just need some down time. In terms of class structure, Pickering reverses the roles. Students conduct all the class lectures while Pickering just sits back with a smile. For him the experience is all about developing public speaking skills and engaging everyone. “My job is to make them laugh and simply enjoy learning. And I actually get paid for the pleasure,” Pickering said.
3. Lee Guillebeau
Professor Guillebeau makes his Entomology 2010 class an insect zoo for his students. For each class, he brings in live insects. A strange looking creature might crawl into your hands because Professor Guillebeau encourages his students to get intimate with the insects. On top of his unique petting zoo of a class, Professor Guillebeau is extremely helpful when it comes to exam material. Nobody likes those surprise questions on a test so he makes sure his students know exactly what will be asked. You can always count on Professor Guillebeau to have your best interest in mind.
4. Andrew Bray
If you’re interested in the study of language, you should definitely sign up for Instructor Andrew Bray’s linguistics 2100 class. It’s always nice to have a teacher who not only teaches from a PowerPoint, but also posts the slides online so you can review at home. You’ll never have to scrounge around for notes if you ever miss class. Bray remains helpful and responsive to students who don’t understand the material throughout the semester. Pro-tip: you can get away without buying the textbook. Paying for extra guac on your Chipotle bowl won’t be a problem this semester.
5. Todd Krohn
Instructor Todd Krohn introduces his students to the intersections of psyche and social networks. This lecture class does not feel like any other lecture class at UGA, though. Krohn makes sure to keep this class personable by relating to all of the students—a sure sign that you don’t have to worry about dosing off every time you are in class. “I thought Krohn was really funny in class,” sophomore Julie Hong said. “His jokes were dry and witty so I actually went to class because he made each time really enjoyable.”
6. Stephanie Shelton
Teaching Assistant Stephanie Shelton gives UGA students a well-rounded view of what it means to study the lives of women. She helps students understand the different advantages and disadvantages that women of different backgrounds might face. “As many of the topics we studied were at times sensitive to some, she was very skilled at balancing the need to enlighten us with her own experience while also allowing the class to come to certain consensuses on our own through the readings and videos shown,” sophomore Angela Pyle said.
7. Gary Green
Associate Professor Green’s Forestry and Natural Resources class isn’t just a whole semester of discussing trees. Though a part of the class does focus on this, Green incorporates humor in his lectures to keep students interested. “I loved Dr. Green,” sophomore Samuel Smith said. “I think he was funny and he connected with his students on different levels. I liked that we had video days and texting breaks.” He also opens the floor to many guest lecturers so that students don’t get bored with the same person instructing each day. Who doesn’t want a few chill days in class where you can sit back, grab popcorn and a Coke to watch an enlightening documentary?
8. Karla Evans
Although many students have different life views, Instructor Karla Evans strives to help her Religion 1001 students come to a common understanding of one another. Her class serves as a safe space for students to discuss the different religions with an open mind. “I have found over the years that by having an open discussion at the beginning of the semester about the importance of seeing each person on the planet as a fellow human being, and therefore, a brother or sister in humanity, the students become more open and ready to be engaged,” Evans said. To top off the eye opening experience this class offers, Evans requires her students to visit a synagogue, church and mosque in the Athens community. Students who take this class definitely have a sense of understanding and respect for those different from them.
9. Loris Magnani
You might find yourself thinking of Professor Magnani’s astronomy class the next time you’re out stargazing with friends. Professor Magnani creates an engaging environment while also teaching students the scientific aspects of astronomy. “The basic idea is that I want the students to see the thought process of a scientist in actions as he or she tries to describe and explain a set of phenomena relevant to the topic at hand,” Magnani said.
10. Kacy Welsh
Senior Lecturer Kacy Welsh makes a huge lecture class of 300 students as engaging as a class of 20. She incorporates a new technique called a flipped classroom, where students do the reading and learning of a topic outside of class and, in class, students practice and memorize the material through fun group activities. “She always wants everyone to feel comfortable, and she does such a great job at that,” sophomore Hannah Roach said. “Her classroom environment is a safe place for everyone to learn and discover new things about themselves and other people.”