UNC will require a new general education curriculum known as IDEAs in Action for incoming first-years and transfer students who enroll in fall 2022. The curriculum will help students design their own educational journey at the University.
The IDEAs acronym emphasizes that students identify pressing questions and problems, discover ideas, evidence and methods that inform these questions, evaluate those ideas and act on the basis of these evaluations.
The new curriculum will require students to take First-Year Foundations courses that are designed to help students navigate through the transition to the college environment.
One of these courses is “Interdisciplinary Studies 101: College Thriving.” The course’s goal is to empower students to participate in the opportunities at a research university.
“I think that the ‘College Thriving’ course is really going to be a game-changer,” Nick Siedentop, curriculum director for the Office of the Undergraduate Curricula, said “I think, for students, that they’re all going to have that type of experience in a small classroom, where they’re really learning about how to be a successful student and getting the skills necessary to be successful in the classroom.”
As part of the new First-Year Foundations component, students will take a three-credit hour first-year seminar or first-year launch course, along with a four-credit hour Triple-I course involving data literacy for the Ideas, Information and Inquiry curriculum.
“The Triple-I program is one of the key components of the new curriculum, and it’s a requirement for all incoming first-year students,” Cary Levine, associate dean and director of the Triple-I program, said. “These are special large courses that bring together three faculty from different disciplines to teach a common topic.”
Levine said he encourages students to never think one discipline is sufficient in approaching a particular problem.
“Courses like Triple-I courses, at the very least, remind students that no matter what discipline you choose, there are others out there that are thinking about the same topic, but from very different points of view and very different tools and very different methods,” Levine said.
Siedentop said the Office of Undergraduate Curricula is excited to launch this new curriculum in the fall, with the new elements of the curriculum being accessible for all undergraduate students.
“Students often had to really seek out some of these high-impact experiences like a first-year seminar and like a research experience,” Siedentop said. “Whereas in the new curriculum, it’s built into the requirements so all students will have an opportunity to engage in these high-impact experiences.”
Within the new curriculum, students will take one course for each of nine Focus Capacities, which will be three credits each.
Focus Capacity courses are geared to reinforce capabilities for identifying and taking action on ideas, evidence and argument. These classes will also allow for teamwork among students through various methods.
All students must complete at least one general education requirement in each of the three major divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences: humanities and fine arts, mathematics and natural sciences and social and behavioral sciences.
“The whole curriculum was designed to blend a kind of cohesive, coherent education so that students could form a better and cohesive education for themselves,” said Li-ling Hsiao, associate dean for first-year curricula.
As students move throughout this curriculum, they will be able to put their abilities into practice through concrete experiences provided by Reflection and Integration courses.
For these, students are required to take a Research and Discovery course, a High-Impact Experience Course, a Communication Beyond Carolina course, a Lifetime Fitness course and attend at least two Campus Life Experiences.
Campus Life Experience events include on-campus organized activities, such as performances, panels and workshops. All approved events will be put on HeelLife, which will also track event participation.
ENGL 105 or 105i will still be required as a part of the new curriculum, along with three levels of Foreign Language courses, which students are strongly encouraged to begin in the first academic year.
For more information on the new IDEAs in Action curriculum, visit its website.
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