While many USC students regard General Education classes (GE’s) as an unnecessary and boring requirement–due to the lack of connection to their major in many cases–they are helpful, sometimes interesting, and can provide value to students. In fact, there are a number of excellent GE classes that are offered in each of the six categories of GE classes (students have to take one class from each category). And as I think back over my first year and half and think of which of the GE classes that I have taken was my favorite, there is only one logical conclusion. Obviously it has to be the one that influenced me to pick up political science as a second major, and that is POSC 130: Law, Politics, and Public Policy. This class is part of the category that all students have to take during their freshman year and is linked with the freshman writing class. I took it during the fall semester of my freshman year and it is taught by Professor John (Jeb) Barnes, who not only is one of the 2 best professors in the entire Political Science Department, but who has become a mentor to me as I advance through my education and take more upper division political science classes.
So what was this class all about that made it so special and my favorite GE? The premise and overarching idea of the class was centered around the principle of the role of the Supreme Court in American society (are they constrained or dynamic) and why the American legal system is so adversarial. The way that Professor Barnes explained the material was very clear and straight forward that it was very easy to grasp the material, while still making it stimulating and interesting. I knew that I loved the class that much that it didn’t even take me more than half of a semester to know that I wanted to continue studying these issues and I decided to pick up the second major. (I know, you’re probably thinking that I have to be crazy to really be influenced by a GE. But it’s true, and this just goes to show that there are some really good GE classes out there that students love). It also helped that I had who would soon become some of my closest friends at USC (who are all in Marshall too) in the class with me. One of my strongest memories of that class was the night before the final when my friends and I were studying for the final and we were going through the possible essay topics and I literally was explaining the answers to each one and helping teach the material to them.
I was really influenced by Professor Barnes, and to date, it was one of my overall favorite classes that I have taken at USC, which I definitely cannot say for every other GE that I’ve taken. I would strongly recommend this class to incoming freshman to take during their fall semester; it’s extremely worthwhile and interesting in my opinion. I wouldn’t be where I am today and have picked up a political science major to complement my business education without having taken Professor Barnes’ POSC 130 class. And that’s why that class was my favorite GE.