University President Lawrence H. Summers has a lot of things on his mind these days, but at least low enrollment in his Core class isn’t one of them.
Boasting an enrollment of 372 students, Social Analysis 78, “Globalization and its Critics,” taught by Summers and Bass Professor of Government Michael J. Sandel, is second in size only to the perennial top dog, Social Analysis 10, “Introduction to Economics.” Ec 10 enrolled 630 students this semester, according to figures released by the Office of the Registrar yesterday.
The other classes that topped the registrar’s charts this semester include two popular Literature and Arts cores, several premed classes, two psychology classes, and a class on American foreign policy.
Sandel, who takes an anti-globalization stance during class debates with Summers, said the class is valuable to students because it presents differing perspectives on current issues.
“Since the course presents a debate between two different views of globalization, it gives students an opportunity to make up their own minds about some of the major moral, economic, and political issues of our time,” Sandel wrote in an e-mail.
A sophomore member of the class concluded that the class appealed to the student body because of the talented teaching staff and the interesting subject matter.
“First of all, you’ve got two of the most well-known people in the college community, and a third who’s well-known everywhere,” said Najeeb M. Tarazi ’07, referring to Sandel, Summers, and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who moderates the discussions but tends to favor globalization in the debates. “And it’s a Core class, so it’s accessible but still complex. The class is mostly made up of undergrads, and they’re from all different concentrations.”
Social Analysis 78 may have lured students away from other classes that meet during its time slot. Psychology 1703, “Human Sexuality,” which experienced one of the biggest spikes in enrollment last year, dropped over fifty students from its class size this term. It is, however, not a lack of interest in the subject matter, but rather scheduling conflicts that may have caused the drop in the number of students, according to Lecturer on Psychology Michael R. Rodriguez.
“I suspect that the biggest reason for the dip in enrollment is because of other courses taught at the same time. Larry Summers’ CORE course, Social Analysis 78, is one that a lot of students were forced to choose between. It meets on Mondays from 2:00-4:00, while my class meets on Monday and Wednesday 1:00-2:30,” Rodriguez wrote in an e-mail.
“Regardless, I believe that my class is still the largest enrollment in the Psych. Department, and certainly among the largest non-CORE courses offered this term across the College,” Rodriguez added. “I’m gratified to know that so many students have chosen to take my course as one of their precious few electives, especially for second semester seniors.”
Enrollment almost doubled in another class centered around international current events-—Government 1790, “American Foreign Policy.” The class, which is taught again this year by Robert L. Paarlberg, a visiting professor from Wellesley, boasts 318 students. The class relocated from Emerson Hall to the Norton Lecture Hall in the Fogg Museum to accommodate its large enrollment.
An informal check of enrollees on thefacebook.com revealed that the majority of the students taking Gov 1790 are studying in the field. But Eunpi Cho ’05 said she is a Chemistry concentrator taking the class because she wants to be knowledgeable about international affairs.
“I’ve been focused on what I’m doing here and life at Harvard, and not concerned about the world around me. I should be especially more interested now that I’m graduating and [foreign affairs] has become such an issue in recent years,” she said.
Enrollment in Literature and Arts A-86, “American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac,” tripled since its introduction into the Core curriculum this year. The course was offered two years ago in the English department.
“I think that a large part of it is that it’s now offered as a core, as opposed to when it was a class offered by the English department and people had to juggle with their requirements,” said Professor of English and American Literature and Language John Stauffer, who teaches the course. “I’d like to think that it’s because students are more active and more interested in protest literature, as a reflection of the fact that there were more students committed to protest. There’s certainly still as many, if not more, issues to protest today as two years ago, but I think the main reason is that it’s a Core course.”
The top ten classes this semester are: Social Analysis 10, “Introduction to Economics,” with 630 enrollees; Social Analysis 78, “Globalization and its Critics,” with 372; Biological Sciences 50, “Genetics and Genomics,” with 339; Psychology 1703, “Human Sexuality,” with 328; Government 1790, “American Foreign Policy,” with 318; Literature and Arts B-20, “Designing the American City,” with 303; Literature and Arts A-86, “American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac,” with 294; Psychology 1502, “Applied Social Psychology,” with 294; Chemistry 7, “Principles of Chemistry,” with 293; and Chemistry 27,“Organic Chemistry of Life,” with 281.