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Canada, neuroscience and an archaeological dig: How three students got an EE credit


Sophomore economics and human development double major Sarah Ward discusses why PHIL 164 is her favorite class outside of her major on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. Ward says it was interesting to talk about real-world issues as well as the ethical issues surrounding them.

From internships to foreign travel, there are many different ways for UNC students to fulfill their Experiential Education requirement. We talked to a few students about how they earned their EE credit, with pathways as different as their majors.

“I think EE is a creative addition to Carolina’s Gen Ed palette,” said senior Renee Mcgee, a music major. “Students are offered a wide variety of courses to satisfy it in a way meaningful to them.”

Study abroad in Montreal

Mcgee fulfilled her EE credit by studying abroad in Montreal, Canada at McGill University last year, instead of taking a course on campus. 

“The experience of living in a bilingual city and being immersed in a new environment taught me more about Quebecois culture and urban life than I could have ever picked up in a class,” Mcgee said. 

She said she would recommend study abroad to any student interested in learning a foreign language, meeting new friends or even just getting out of Chapel Hill for a bit. 

Archaeological excavation in Hillsborough 

Sophomore Jordyn Gray, majoring in classics and archaeology, completed ANTH 451: Field School in North American Archaeology, where she participated in an archaeological excavation in Hillsborough, North Carolina last summer. 

Students earned six credits for the completion of this service-learning course and got hands-on experience with archaeology skills. 

They worked all day, five days a week, excavating a Native American village that was occupied in the 1500s. 

Gray said this experience kept her more engaged than learning in a typical classroom setting. She said she was constantly doing things and working with her hands, instead of listening to someone lecture at her. 

“You weren’t constantly burning your hand out from writing notes,” Gray said. “You kind of get the notes by doing it every day.”

Gray said it was the type of experience she wouldn’t have received just from reading a textbook. 

Computer science research 

Senior Josh Thomas, a computer science major, is currently enrolled in COMP 495: Mentored Research in Computer Science, where he is completing research in neuroscience. 

Thomas said he has a big project due at the end of the semester, where he is using machine learning to classify Parkinson’s Disease patients.

When asked what he enjoyed most about the class, Thomas said he got to set up his own structure. With approval and some additions from his professors, he set up his own assignments and due dates before being officially enrolled in the course. 

“There’s definitely a lot more freedom,” Thomas said. “I get to work on it whenever I want.”

He said he also has to do a couple of written assignments throughout the semester and give presentations in group meetings held every other Friday with graduate students in his lab.

Thomas also has weekly meetings with his professors to update them on his progress, he said. 

When he initially looked around for research opportunities, Thomas said he was surprised to get a response, much less an opportunity like the one he has now.

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“I think (the EE requirement) is a good opportunity to make students get out there and do something they may not be comfortable doing,” Thomas said. “It kind of forces you to do something, more than any other requirement.”