Historical Study A-12 usually fills 600 seats in Sanders Theatre. But this year only 208 students signed up for the course, which will be moved to a smaller lecture hall in Emerson tomorrow.
The class, also known as "International Conflicts in the Modern World," is co-taught by Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France Stanley H. Hoffmann and Assistant Professor of Government J. Lawrence Broz.
And that may be the reason for the decline in enrollment. The popular Joseph S. Nye Jr., Dillon professor of international affairs, used to teach the course, but he took leave from Harvard last year to become the chair of the National Intelligence Council in Washington.
"Probably the strongest factor...is the fact that Joe Nye is not teaching it," Broz said. "Stanley [Hoffmann] hasn't done the course for a few years now and Joe's reputation is very strong."
Aamer Z. Farooki '94 said he too believes the class is smaller because Nye is not teaching it.
"[Hoffmann and Broz] are good lecturers but Nye is a great lecturer," Farooki said.
Hoffmann created the course in 1974 and taught it until 1982, when Nye, a former student of Hoffman's, took it over.
Hoffmann said yesterday he is pleased with the reduction in class size.
"I don't like mobs," Hoffmann said. "Smaller classes are better for two reasons. One, the larger the class gets the more impersonal it gets. And, two, the larger it is the more exhausting it isto teach...I'm not young anymore."
During his lecture yesterday, Hoffman said hewas glad to move to a lecture space where he couldsee his entire audience.
"It's much easier to teach this sort of thingto a group of 50 to 200," Hoffmann added.
Both Hoffmann and Broz said the coursecurriculum is essentially the same as Nye taught.But they also said a few post-Cold War topics likeYugoslavia and European integration have beenadded to the mix.
"The class is still challenging but it's moreup-to-date now," Head Teaching Fellow Mary Y. Kwaksaid.
Kwak said the lower enrollment can beattributed to better classes being offered in theHistorical Study A area.
"We like to think that everyone just wants agood introduction to international relations,"Kwak said. "But a lot are just taking this for acore requirement and other [courses] are out therenow."
Hoffman said he agrees that the variety ofhistory courses has contributed to the decline ofA-12's enrollment.
"There seems to be a decline with a number ofhistory-type courses," Hoffman said. "I just don'tknow where everyone is going but this place isfull of fascinating courses."
Dan Treisman, a teaching fellow this year andunder Nye in 1991, said he was surprised by thedifference in enrollment.
"[Nye and Hoffmann] are both outstandingteachers, definitely among the best at Harvard,"Treisman said. "They are skilled at presentingcomplicated material in a simple and engagingmanner. I really don't know why there should beany difference in enrollment."
Students in the class offered several differentexplanations for the course's apparent lack ofpopularity this year.
"I've heard it's a predominantly freshmancourse," said Alexandra K. Schmidek '95, whotransferred to Harvard for this academic year. "Ihad heard of Nye but I was told that Hoffmann iscool too... I like it so far.