Global Appalachian Learning Alliance

What is Gala? 

The Global Appalachia Learning Alliance (GALA) aims to enhance global studies in and of Appalachia. The formal definition of Appalachia, which spans 13 states from southern New York to Northern Mississippi, dates to  the early 1960s, when regional governors encouraged the Kennedy and Johnson administrations to assist their mountain counties, where one in three residents lived in poverty. Since then, much of the study of the region has been inward-looking. This initiative looks outward in two ways: first, by offering supporting faculty research and course development support, career toolkits for students, and K-12 teacher training in global studies, targeting regional schools (that meet whatever the IP says); second, by promoting research on the global history and challenges of the region. A collaboration between Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, which offers both rural and urban Appalachian perspectives, GALA is a consortium of institutions that shares resources and improves international education and research across the region. 


The GALA is dedicated to advancing discourse and dialogue by:

  • Building capacity across a wide range of diverse identities and perspectives

  • Creating inclusive spaces where individuals feel empowered to contribute

  • ​Ensuring conversations reflect the multiplicity within our community


Affiliated Programs, Groups, and Initiatives

Global Appalachia: Interdisciplinary Perspective on a Region in Motion


This initiative seeks to build an interdisciplinary cohort of scholars and activists whose work involves the Appalachian region for more engaged discussion and scholarship. This cohort will be part of a regional consortium of institutions of higher education, Community Colleges and Minority Serving Institutions, to stimulate research, share programs and resources, and provide curriculum and professional development opportunities throughout the 13-state region. This approach reflects a broader strategy to avoid one-off events and focus on building lasting scholarly communities and networks tied to Pitt’s global thematic priorities.


Global Appalachian Working Group


The working group, in collaboration with the World History Center, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and the Global Studies Center aims to facilitate collaborative discussion on regional issues through a global lens. This partnership, integral to the broader initiative of the Global Appalachian Learning Alliance (GALA), operates through Pitt’s Global Studies Center and Penn State’s Center for Global Studies. Leveraging existing networks and partnerships, the working group has established a consortium dedicated to sharing educational resources and programming across the frequently overlooked 13- state region. 

Global Appalachia Reading Group

During the Spring 2024 semester, the Global Appalachian Working Group launched an innovative reading group series. This series aimed to bring together both Pitt and non-Pitt faculty, students, staff, and community members to collectively delve into issues that hold significance for the region. Led by faculty members from Pitt and West Virginia University, the series hosted discussions in January, February, and March. These discussions shed light on the often-neglected aspects of this region, even within our own university community. 


Lara Putnam


Lara Putnam is UCIS Research Professor of History and director of the Global Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh. She researches social movements and political participation in local, national, and transnational dimensions. Her sole-authored books include The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960 (UNC Press, 2002) and Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age (UNC Press, 2013). She is co-lead of the Southwest PA Civic Resilience Initiative of the Pitt Disinformation Lab at Pitt’s Institute for Cyber Security.

David Tipper

David Tipper is a professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh where he is also the director of SIS’ graduate Telecommunications & Networking Program. Tipper has a secondary appointment at Pitt’s Department of Electrical Engineering. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona (PhD Electrical Engineering, MS Systems Engineering) and Virginia Tech (BS in Electrical Engineering).
At Pitt, Tipper teaches courses on communication systems, wireless networks, network performance modeling and analysis, network design, and infrastructure protection. Tipper’s research has been supported by grants from various government and corporate sources such as NSF, DARPA, NIST, IBM, ARO, and AT&T.
Prior to joining Pitt in the fall of 1994, Tipper was a faculty member at Clemson University (South Carolina) and Molde University College (Norway). Tipper also worked in industry as a system engineer on a NASA project and as a Networking Technology Center staff member at The Mitre Corporation. Tipper is also a senior member of the IEEE.

Horia Dijmarescu


"I research how people invoke rules to justify or contest actions. My work examines wartime use of incendiary munitions, the legitimation of human rights violations through emergency powers, and the normalization of animus against sexual and gender identity minorities. In each of these areas, I trace how invoked rules constitute resources through which the meanings of rules are produced and negotiated. I earned a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northwestern University and a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University in Washington, D.C. During my time in D.C., I worked in the grants program at the United States Institute of Peace. I was born in Romania and grew up in Canada."