UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences will offer five new interdisciplinary “Ideas, Information and Inquiry” courses in spring 2019 for first-years and transfer students.
If successful, these courses may be incorporated into UNC's new general education requirements, which are currently under development.
The five courses (III or “Triple-I” courses)offered are all listed as IDST 190, with different sections: 001 is "Philosophy, Politics, and Economics," which deals with the ethics, politics, and analysis of economics. Section 002 is "Death and Dying," a course on the experiences and practices surrounding death. "The Idea of Race" is 003, which will discuss the false construct of race, its history and its future. Section 004 is "The Environment, Intersectionality, and Science Fiction," which will look at how science fiction addresses environmental issues and gender, race and class. Section 005 is "Happiness and Well Being," a course on happiness and improving life skills.
These courses are currently reserved for first-year and transfer students.
Each class will be co-taught by three professors from different fields with the intent of providing an interdisciplinary view on the topic. For example, "The Idea of Race" course is led by an ethnomusicologist, a biologist and a linguist.
“For this topic, it’s really important for it to be interdisciplinary,” said Dave Pier, a professor in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies and the ethnomusicologist teaching "The Idea of Race" course. “My background doesn’t equip me to address people’s questions or thoughts about biological human diversity. I just don’t know it. So, biologists like Dan Matute can address those questions.”
Biology professor Matute voiced a similar sentiment.
“We live in a world that actually tries to use multiple methodologies and tries to integrate teams in order to solve problems,” he said. “That’s essentially what we’re trying to do with the class. We need to know how to work in teams with partners who know things that we don’t. It just makes us stronger.”
Jeannie Loeb, the director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and a co-teacher of the “Death and Dying” course, said that this is also an opportunity for professors to learn from each other and foster collaboration on all levels.