The "hot course" is all the buzz in dorm rooms, dining halls and quadrangles across the country this fall. Maybe it's a force-fed graduation requirement or a grade-point-boosting "gut." Or maybe it's a course with a spellbinding professor, seminal readings and scintillating assignments. Current asked some prominent Californians about their favorite college course and why it set their minds on fire. And we checked last year's top-enrolled classes at some public and private schools to gauge what's
-- ADAM GUREN
Eric Garcetti, president of the Los Angeles City Council
Course: "Asian Humanities" at Columbia University, which was "perfect preparation for living in the world's greatest Pacific city."
Arianna Huffington, political activist
Course: On logic at Cambridge University in Britain, which taught her "how illogical we all can be in defense of our own positions."
Lee Baca, Los Angeles County sheriff
Course: "Case Studies in Leadership" at USC, which "introduced me to the writings of Cicero, [particularly] De Officiis.... The theme was: Learn to be a statesman before you are a politician."
D.J. Waldie, author of "Where We Are Now: Notes from Los Angeles" and "Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir"
Course: "Mann and Faulkner" at Cal State Long Beach, "the hardest course I ever took, but it turned out to be my favorite."
Eugene Volokh, professor of law at UCLA
Course: On free speech at UCLA Law School, which "dealt with a lot of intricate, complicated rules about some fascinating cases."
Nancy Silverton, chef at La Brea Bakery
Course: "Myths and Ritual in Christianity" at Sonoma State, an introduction to the Bible "from the angle of literature."
Kevin Starr, California state librarian emeritus and professor at USC
Course: "Classics of the Renaissance" at the University of San Francisco and "Prose and Poetry: The Victorian Era" at Harvard University, which taught that "you have to assess the role of the imagination" in history.
Eli Broad, businessman and philanthropist
Course: Introduction to economics at Michigan State University, "a great education on how the world works financially and otherwise."
William J. Bratton, Los Angeles police chief
Course: "Urban Geography" at Boston State College (now University of Massachusetts Boston), which he took at a time when "great cities were being written off by many in this country. Boy, were they wrong."
Harvard University: Moral Reasoning 22: "Justice"
Pomona College: History 11: "Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean"
San Francisco State: Marketing 431: "Principles of Marketing"
Santa Monica Community College: English 1: "Reading and Composition 1" *
Stanford University: Psychiatry 235: "Sleep and Dreams"
UCLA: English Composition 3: "English Composition, Rhetoric, and Language" *
University of Texas at Austin: Chemistry 301: "Principles of Chemistry"
Yale University: History 261: "The Cold War"
*taught in sections