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Economics and political science classes will see their highest enrollment in the spring of 2024

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The three classes with the highest enrollment this semester — introductory macroeconomics, biomedical ethics and law, and intermediate macroeconomics — attracted hundreds of students.

Hudson Warm and Andre Fausu

1:36 AM, January 26, 2024

Staff reporters

Samad Haqqani, photography editor

As the add/drop period ends Tuesday, registrar data reveals the most popular Yale College courses for the spring 2024 semester. The top three include two lecture courses in macroeconomics and “Bioethics and Law,” a lecture course in the Department of Political Science.

Topping the list is “Introduction to Macroeconomics” — a foundational economics lecture by economics professor Fabrizio Zilibotti — with 344 students enrolled. The second subject, “Bioethics and Law,” which includes 288 students, is taught by Stephen Latham, professor of political science and director of the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. The course focuses on “US law’s treatment of key issues in contemporary biomedical ethics,” according to the class description in the course search. Intermediate Macroeconomics, taught by economics professor Marnix Amand, had the third highest enrollment.

Zilipoti wrote for the News that his course prepares students to understand the world we live in — a world in which economics is “spread.”

“The course provides the basic tools for understanding the daily debate on topical issues in our society: growth, unemployment, inequality, inflation and poverty,” he wrote.

He added that Ziliputi aims to keep his track relevant to our moment in history.

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He also wrote to the News that he bases the discussion on recent trends including the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2007-2008 financial crisis, and recent trends in income inequality.

Zilipoti said he believes his course, as well as Introductory Microeconomics, is so popular because it is a requirement for the economics major, although his course attracts students in other majors.

Due to the popularity of the course, it employs a team of trainers, including course director William Hawkins, as well as teaching fellows and peer tutors.

Due to the breadth of the class, Zilibotti wrote that his class did not have time to delve too deeply into any of the topics covered, although he stated that the more advanced courses were designed for that purpose.

Ryan Kolsakdinon ’27 described Introduction to Macroeconomics as “welcoming” because of its “low-commitment” structure. The class meets twice a week for 75-minute lectures as well as weekly 50-minute sections.

Kolsakdinon told the News that his main reason for enrolling in the class was his combined major, computer science and economics.

“Having a good foundation in micro and macro is really important. I think taking a college-level macroeconomics course would be helpful,” Kolesakdinon said.

“Bioethics and Law,” the second most popular course, is a social sciences course that focuses on timely and relevant issues in medicine, such as access to abortion, Professor Stephen Latham wrote for the News.

“With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, states are going in completely different directions on abortion rights,” he wrote. “So, a very large percentage of the topics we talk about in class are in the headlines every week.”

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Latham hopes the course will provide students with the skills and knowledge to thoughtfully discuss their positions on bioethical issues, discussing issues such as abortion, assisted reproduction, medical assistance in dying and public health responses during epidemics.

In class he also teaches how the American legal debate over health care issues differs from that in other countries.

Dean Centa '25 is enrolled in Intermediate Macroeconomics, the class that had the third-highest enrollment this semester. Although he wasn't originally keen on taking the course, Senta told the News that he took the class because it was a requirement for his major, adding that many of the seniors in the class held off on taking the requirement until their final semester.

Giovanni Maggi, director of undergraduate studies in economics, wrote for The News that the reason for the growing interest in economics is multifaceted.

“I must be a good economist here,” he wrote to the News. “The question of what explains the great and growing popularity of economic cycles is not a straightforward one, and it will require careful empirical investigation to understand the causes of this phenomenon.”

However, he pointed out some factors that may have influenced the department's popularity: excellent career and research opportunities, the high quality of teaching and the fact that some economics classes are mandatory for majors, including global affairs and economics.

Senta shared similar views to Ziliputi, saying that some students take these economics courses out of curiosity, but most take them as a requirement.

“If you go to Coursetable, and you look at the reviews, everyone is taking it because it's a requirement,” Cinta told the News.

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Senta also told the News that first-years and sophomores are interested in economics starting with “introductory microeconomics” and “introductory macroeconomics” and then to “intermediate macroeconomics” throughout their Yale careers.

Sean Barrett's “General Physics Laboratory” and Steve Chang's “Cognitive Neuroscience” were the fourth and fifth most popular, with 247 and 243 students, respectively.

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