It turns out a whole lot of Yale students want to learn to be happier. The New York Times reports the recently offered Psyc 147—or "Psychology and the Good Life"—is the most popular course in Yale's 316 years of existence. "Students want to change to be happier themselves, and to change the culture here on campus," Prof. Laurie Santos says. You can say that again. Within a week or so of registration opening, 1,182 students had enrolled in Santos' course to learn how to be happier and more satisfied in life. That's nearly a quarter of all Yale undergraduates and beats out the previous record-holder, "Psychology and the Law," which had 1,050 students in 1992. Psyc 147 focuses on positive psychology and behavioral change, culminating with a self-improvement project by each student. "We're actually seeding change in the school's culture," Santos says.
While not all students enrolled in the course are there for personal betterment—"It's low-pressure," one senior says, "and maybe I'll learn a few tricks"—Santos says its lessons are important. She says many Yale students probably didn't prioritize their happiness in high school while striving to get into the prestigious university and that has led to "the mental health crises we're seeing." A freshman enrolled in "Psychology and the Good Life" says many students "are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb." Despite the popularity of the course, Santos says it's a one-time offering. It has been difficult to find the space and teaching fellows to accommodate nearly 1,200 students, and it's taking students away from other courses. Read the full story here. (Read more Yale University stories.)