Education: Courses to Turn You On

In many universities and colleges, the formerly "kept" departments —those in which courses were once full because they were required of all students—have never recovered from the curriculum reforms of recent years. Modern languages and history have been especially hard hit. For example, chiefly because the University of Wisconsin reduced its language requirement in 1971, enrollment in French at the Madison campus tumbled from 4,800 to 2,100. It has stayed down ever since, despite the blandishments of new courses like one on French cinema. In other lagging disciplines, some professors have even tried Madison Avenue techniques to fill classes: plugging their...

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