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Portico, Globalization Among Most Enrolled Courses This Semester

Scheduling courses each semester is overwhelming for many Boston College students. Fitting in core courses, major or minor requirements, and electives can be daunting. In the midst of this chaos, some courses and professors prove remarkably popular.

One of the most enrolled courses this semester is Portico, required of all freshmen in the Carroll School of Management.

Portico provides freshmen with a transition into the business school with activities like four-year planning, advising, and guest speakers. As CSOM continues to grow in size—enrollment was under 2,000 five years ago and is now over 2,200—the Portico program will have to accommodate more students. Portico has been an integral part of the CSOM experience, and although the class structure this year looks similar to last year, there have been changes over time.

“If you were to look at eight years ago versus this year, the course would look much different,” said Ethan Sullivan, CSOM’s assistant dean for undergraduate curriculum. “Incremental improvements lead to big improvements over time.”

One of the other most commonly taken classes is microeconomics. With well-known professors like Can Erbil, Tracy Regan, and Richard Tresch, it’s a class many freshman enroll in during their first semester at BC.

Erbil said in his 21 years of teaching he’s learned a lot about accommodating a large 300-person lecture.

“I am always walking around the lecture hall, stopping at different spots,” he said. “My goal is to make the lecture hall feel smaller and have a closer interaction with my students.”

Regan expressed the same sentiment regarding accommodating a large lecture hall.

“I try to make my class feel smaller by making it as interactive as possible,” she said. “I regularly ask questions to the class and ask them to do the same of me. It’s great to have so many perspectives in one room that can enrich the curriculum for everyone.”

Both Erbil and Regan are passionate about the benefits microeconomics can provide for all students, regardless of their major or career path.  

“The success story of the biotech industry in the Boston area is partially due to a reliable ecosystem, which provides finance and further research avenues,” Erbil said.

Regan believes that behavioral economics complements psychology and marketing. She also said that economics is useful to many of her students who are on a pre-med track.

“Understanding the business side of things is becoming increasingly important to medical professionals as they operate their own private practices or ultimately work in hospital administration,” she said.

Globalization is another popular history course, satisfying the cultural diversity core and half of the history requirement. This semester there are four sections, each holding around 250 students.

Catherine Warner, a visiting assistant professor, describes the course as a process that produces new types of connections.

“It poses problems and opportunities that people around the world are grappling with in their lives in very diverse ways,” she said.

Warner believes the course also positively affects other areas of students’ academic and professional lives.

“We focus on learning to read and evaluate primary sources in order to develop evidence-based analytical thinking and argumentation,” she said. “I believe this will be a useful skill for students in many different courses.”

Another one of the most common courses is Atlantic Worlds, which also serves as half the history core requirement.

Chris Staysniak, a part-time professor teaching Atlantic Worlds, hopes that students take away life-long skills from the class that prepare them not just for the rest of their BC curriculum, but also the rest of their lives. He wants them to retain “analytical reflexes,” or asking themselves “How did things get to be this way?”

Staysniak also credits his teaching assistants with a large part of the success of the class.

“They are less my supporting cast than they are my co-stars,” he said. “Their more individualized attention and instruction is central to the student’s experience of the course.”

Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Staff

September 17, 2017