A number of new classes and one very prominent change of professors have altered the landscape of Harvard’s most popular courses, according to the registrar’s preliminary numbers for class enrollment released this week.
While perennial favorite Social Analysis 10: “Principles of Economics” enrolled 717 students to keep the top spot—as it has for many years—the biggest change this year came with Afro-American Studies 10: “Introduction to Afro-American Studies.”
The widely popular introductory class taught by former Fletcher University Professor Cornel R. West ’74 attracted an overflow audience of 599 students last year.
But with West’s departure to Princeton this summer, the class—under the new direction of DuBois Professor of the Humanities Henry L. “Skip” Gates, Jr.—saw its enrollment plummet to 91 students.
With 686 students, Moral Reasoning 22: “Justice,” replaced Af-Am 10 as the College’s second most popular course.
Last year’s third most popular class is also missing this year—General Education 105: “The Literature of Social Reflection,” is no longer being offered. Now Chemistry 5: “Introduction to Principles of Chemistry,” is the third largest class with 297 students.
Finishing out the top five are Economics 1010a: “Microeconomic Theory,” with 285 enrolled, and Literature and Arts B-51: “First Nights: Five Performance Premieres,” with 279 enrolled.
The push to expand the Core appears to have paid dividends, as several new courses saw large enrollments.
Literature and Arts B-24:
“Constructing Reality—Photography of Fact and Fiction,” with an enrollment of 262 undergraduates, is the sixth most popular course—despite never having been offered before.
Professor Robin E. Kelsey said he was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response to the class, since only 80 people had been expected to enroll.
He attributed the popularity to last year’s terrorist attacks, explaining, “Sept. 11 reminded people of how important photography can be.”
The new Quantitative Reasoning 43: “Introduction to Investments” attracted 183 students and Literature and Arts B-82: “Sayin’ Something—Jazz as Sound, Sensibility and Social Dialogue” saw 150 students enroll.
Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics John Y. Campbell said that his investing course was “much larger than expected.”
“Fortunately, there’s not more than 200 people—since that’s the capacity of the room,” he said.
But not every new class fared so well.
Historical Study B-11: “The Crusades” is being offered this fall for the first time in four years.
According to Dumbarton Professor of Byzantine History Angeliki E. Laiou, the enrollment had been as high as 150 students in previous years, although it only attracted 21 students this year.
She said she thinks the lower number is due to the course not being listed in the CUE Guide and that word-of-mouth, a large selling point for other courses, has not yet been generated.
Courses focusing on American foreign policy and terrorism are particularly popular. Government 1730: “War and Politics” attracted 121 students, while Government 1790: “American Foreign Policy,” and Government 1968: “International Politics in the Middle East” also saw similar numbers.
Sociology 167: “The Social Origins of Terrorism” Professor Ziad Munson said he saw a spike in his class enrollment this year too.
“It’s twice what they’d be if September 11th hadn’t happened,” he said.