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Economics 10b, Life Sciences 1b Lead Spring Course Enrollment

Economics 10b remains the most popular spring semester course.
Economics 10b remains the most popular spring semester course. By Ashley R. Masci
By Isabella B. Cho and Mayesha R. Soshi, Crimson Staff Writers

Economics 10b: “Principles of Economics” continues to reign as the most popular spring semester course for the eighth consecutive year, followed by the pre-medical lab course Life Sciences 1b: “Intro to Life Sciences II” and a new contender, General Education 1014: “Ancestry.”

Ec 10b led spring course enrollment with a total of 511 students, Life Sciences 1b took the second spot with 386 students, and Gen Ed 1014 rounded out the top three with 373 students, according to data released by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences registrar’s office. Physical Sciences 11: “Frontiers of Modern Chemistry” and Chemistry 27: “Organic Chemistry of Life” filled out the top five most popular courses, boasting 299 and 281 students, respectively.

Economics professor Jason Furman ’92, who helms Ec 10b alongside his colleague David I. Laibson ’88, said economics is a field that “everyone should know” and build into their understanding of the world. Their course — currently the most popular at the College —provides an introduction to macroeconomics, covering a range of topics from racial disparities in unemployment to the workings of the global economy.

“It’s everything from big social science questions to policy questions to helping you think about your own life and your own decisions,” Furman said.

Continuing their approach to the course last spring, Furman said he and Laibson have tailored the course to explore the ongoing coronavirus pandemic's impact on the economy.

Though LS 1b holds the same ranking as last spring with the second largest enrollment, Gen Ed 1014: “Ancestry” climbed up from its former nineteenth place to third place this year, more than doubling its enrollment since last year.

Gen Ed 1014's head course instructor, Maya R. Jasanoff ’96, said the course offers an “interdisciplinary investigation” of lineage and inheritance using tools from fields including anthropology, biology, and history. She speculated that the prominence of national conversations related to marginalization and belonging may have encouraged more students to take her course this year.

“We are in the midst of a national conversation about who we are as a nation, and the ways in which certain lineages have been marginalized and mistreated throughout our national history,” Jasanoff said. “I do think the fact that issues of identity and belonging are so much at the forefront of the national conversation right now could be an explanation.”

Physical Sciences 11 held steady from last spring as the fourth most popular course, while this semester’s fifth-placer Chemistry 27 clambered up from its former seventh place ranking.

Chemistry professor Emily P. Balskus, who teaches Chemistry 27, said she modified the course in response to the pandemic to give her students the opportunity to apply the concepts they learn to the ongoing process of developing drugs to treat Covid-19.

“Our goal is to give students a new way to look at the world — the ability to view the world from a molecular perspective,” Balskus said. “I think our current situation really hits home how important knowledge can be.”

— Staff writer Isabella B. Cho can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @izbcho.

— Staff writer Mayesha R. Soshi can be reached at

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