The Most Popular Girls in School: Yale’s Top Lectures Fall 2K15

Shopping period has finally come to a close. Whether you are an engineering major with classes picked out straight until graduation or a freshman who tried to get into a 400-level polisci seminar, a SWUG shopping only the guttiest guts or an overeager shopper going to eight classes a day, you are done.


Me, after dropping my schedule off at 4:59 p.m.

The first few days of shopping period are madness. You plan to show up to class 15 minutes early to grab a great seat, only to realize that there’s a mob already forming outside the classroom. It becomes unclear how early you really have to get there. 30 minutes? 45? An hour?


All I wanted was an aisle seat, dammit!!

Or maybe that’s just for a select few classes. The Boola presents to you: THE MOST POPULAR LECTURES OF FALL 2K15. 

Note: There are two lectures that also surpassed 300 students at their peak and are not featured on this list for purely subjective reasons. These classes are Intro to Microeconomics and BIOL 101. No one is taking BIOL 101 for a gutty Sc credit. No one gets all worked up over those gorgeous supply and demand curves. Students taking BIOL 101 or Intro to Microeconomics are grinding through their prerequisites come hell or high water.


My interpretation of life as a premed.

Another Note: This list is ranked by the highest enrollment numbers at the peak enrollment for that class. The numbers may have gone down since then, and the order therefore has changed.


7. AMST 135/HIST 127/WGSS 200 US Lesbian and Gay History

Professor: George Chauncey

Students Enrolled at Peak: 302

Final Enrollment: 231

Introduction to the social, cultural, and political history of lesbians, gay men, and other socially constituted sexual minorities. Focus on understanding categories of sexuality in relation to shifting normative regimes, primarily in the twentieth century. The emergence of homosexuality and heterosexuality as categories of experience and identity; the changing relationship between homosexuality and transgenderism; the development of diverse lesbian and gay subcultures and their representation in popular culture; religion and sexual science; generational change and everyday life; AIDS; and gay, antigay, feminist, and queer movements.

US Lesbian and Gay History is one of those classes you’re told you must take before you leave these hallowed halls. Take it because you’re in the major, take it to learn more about an important subject, take it to shock your homophobic grandparents. But the overwhelming consensus is take it because it “will change your brain and it will change your life.” (Quotation pulled from a student review)



6. FILM 285/HSAR 328 Disney

Professor: J.D. Connor

Students Enrolled at Peak: 312

Final Enrollment: 209

History of the Walt Disney Company from origins to today. Early animation, popular modernism, mid-century television, development of the theme parks and nature films, the Disney princess, the animation renaissance, and the current portfolio of brands, such as Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm.

As I was perusing the YCPS this summer I happened to stumble upon a lecture called “Disney.” I was pleased with myself for spotting a potential hidden gem and knew I would shop it. What I failed to consider, however, was the fact that liking Disney is not unique. Nearly every child in America has some sort of relationship with Disney. There is no hipster Mickey Mouse. Disney has Big-Brothered us all.


As I’m sure Banksy would be quick to tell you.

311 other students shopped this “hidden gem.” The first day students were pouring out into the hallways because there wasn’t any room left to sit on the floor.

Screenshot 2015-09-17 00.47.16

If only the camera had panned to the left, I would have been immortalized on J.D. Connor’s Twitter.

5. PLSC 143 International Challenges of the 21st Century

Professor: Jolyon Howorth

Students Enrolled at Peak: 337

Final Enrollment: 321

Challenges facing the global community as it undergoes a power transition with the relative decline of the West and the emergence of powers such as China, India, and Brazil. Natural challenges such as demography, climate, and energy security; systemic issues related to the balance of power, economic crises, and trade globalization; new threats, including rogue states, terrorism, and WMD proliferation; regional challenges in Asia, Ukraine/Crimea, the Middle East, and Africa.

Oh, that sweet, sweet 2.1 work level on CourseTable. This class is the ideal intersection of “Interesting material that is relevant and won’t put you to sleep” and “Just a midterm and a take-home final? Please and thank you.” So a shout-out to you, Professor Howorth, one of the unsung heroes of Yale College.


Squint your eyes as much as humanly possible, and it almost looks like moustache-era Salovey.

4. PSYC 110 Introduction to Psychology

Professor: Paul Bloom

Students Enrolled at Peak: 373

Final Enrollment: 328

A survey of major psychological approaches to the biological, cognitive, and social bases of behavior.

College is about answering those angsty, vaguely narcissistic questions: Who am I? What am I meant to do? It’s about finding yourself! In lieu of getting a dramatic facial tattoo, growing a handlebar mustache, wearing prescriptionless glasses, or learning acoustic guitar, take introduction to psychology! All these teens and twentysomethings just want to understand themselves.


I don’t think your owl knows the answer, Harry.


Jeez, calm down. Come to PSYC110 in SSS 114!

Besides, introduction to psychology has consistently bomb professors that everybody loves. Marvin Chun could probably start a cult if he weren’t so busy running Berkeley, doing research, and winning awards. And Paul Bloom, this semester’s head honcho and an equally gifted psychologist, has already won the hearts and minds of his students. Minds that he will soon train to understand other minds.


Subsequently blowing those original minds themselves.

3. HIST 261/PLSC 176 The Cold War

Professor: John Gaddis

Students Enrolled at Peak: 431

Final Enrollment: 316

The Cold War from beginning to end, viewed from the perspective of all its major participants, with emphasis on recently released Soviet, East European, and Chinese sources.

Professor Gaddis’s swan song. No other human being knows more about the Cold War, or at least no other human being has written more books on the Cold War. Kids have signed up for this class because they want to tell their grandchildren that they took a class from a Yale legend.


You just know the final lecture is going to end like this.

In other news, according to ~Wikipedia~, John Gaddis was the person who suggested to George Bush that he take up painting.


We have John Gaddis to thank for these national treasures.


2. CGSC 135/HIST 118/HSHM 216/PSYC 135 Minds and Brains in America

Professor: Henry Cowles

Students Enrolled at Peak: 448

Final Enrollment: 365

A survey of the science and medicine of mind and brain in America since 1800. Madness and the asylum; phrenology and psychoanalysis; psychology in politics, law, and advertising; the rise of the ‘neuro’ disciplines; mental health in public life. Texts from fields such as neurology, physiology, psychology, psychiatry, and philosophy.

This is another new lecture. Why is there so much interest? Because it’s cross-listed across four departments? I don’t know!


…And apparently the administration doesn’t know either. Back when it wasn’t expected that this lecture would fill up the entirety of the SLB auditorium, there was a writing section offered. Unfortunately, ask a grad student to run the writing section for a 448-person lecture, and the answer is a resounding “hahahaha.”


That’s cute, Yale.

But I may have stumbled upon a reason why it is so hyped up. One insider says, “Henry is so cute. What a precious gumdrop.” So keep doing you, Henry Cowles.


448 undergrads is larger than all of JE.

1. CPSC 100 The Class Known As CS50

Professor: Brian Scassellati

Students Enrolled at Peak: 670

Final Enrollment: 510

Introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and to the art of programming, with attention to algorithmic thinking and efficient problem solving. Topics include abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and Web development. Programming in the languages C, PHP, and JavaScript, as well as SQL, CSS, and HTML. Applications in biology, cryptography, finance, forensics, and gaming. Students view most course lectures on line; all sections, office hours, and related events are held locally.

You did it, Yale and Harvard. You bombarded our e-mails, you bribed us with free DropBox storage, you hyped up CS50 to the point that even my most computer-averse friends were saying, “Oh, what the hell.”  We had to sleep in fear of computer science nerds breaking down our doors, crying, “SHOP CS50! It’s a revolutionary new teaching style! It’s the classroom of the future!” Truly remarkable advertising.


“Yes, I’m officially requesting a restraining order against anyone involved with CS50.”

Through sheer persistence and free CS50 merchandise, you made the most popular class at Yale a Harvard class on a video screen. I hope you’re happy with yourselves. Students can now pay over 60k in tuition to go to class and say, “Huh. Certainly does look like they’re having fun up there in Cambridge.” A truly unnatural and disturbing sentence.


Whew. Much better.

Update: For those of you curious, these classes ranked by final enrollment are:

  1. CS50
  2. Minds and Brains in America
  3. Introduction to Psychology
  4. International Challenges of the 21st Century
  5. The Cold War
  6. US Lesbian and Gay History
  7. Disney