Over the past five years, a group of faculty members have worked together to rethink the current curriculum at UNC — this effort has lead to the development of the IDEAs in Action curriculum.
The Faculty Council approved the curriculum in spring 2019, and the University plans to launch it in fall 2022.
The IDEAs in Action curriculum introduces new undergraduate courses, such as Triple-I courses, that help students discover common themes between different fields of study. The Triple-I courses focus on ideas, information and inquiry.
Triple-I courses will bring together three professors from different departments within the University to teach a select topic from various perspectives. Planned courses will discuss ethics, economics, public policy, race, health, gender, nature and more.
The IDEAS in Action curriculum will also include a First Year Thriving program to encourage students to participate in research opportunities at UNC and take a research-based English course.
In an October message to the University community, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz discussed the new IDEAs in Action curriculum.
"It will ensure that Carolina graduates will not be powerless in the face of big challenges," Guskiewicz said. "They won’t simply cope with the world; they’ll have the tools to shape it.”
Nick Siedentop, curriculum director in the Office of Undergraduate Curricula, said he has been working alongside faculty since 2019 to implement the new IDEAs in Action curriculum to allow for a seamless transition during the fall 2022 semester.
"We have been working with departments and faculty in terms of how to transform their courses to meet the new student outcomes of the curriculum," Siedentop said. "We are also in the process of offering workshops for faculty and advisers to educate them on the new curriculum."
Siedentop said the curriculum focuses on teaching students how to collaborate with others and present information, skills that will be useful after graduation.
"Students will also have the opportunity to put their learning into action and engage in research experience, and to know what that process looks like," Siedentop said. "It also will help them in their future careers as leaders, problem solvers, lifelong learners and engaged citizens."
Li-ling Hsiao, associate dean for first-year curricula in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the new curriculum will be beneficial because of the way it is structured.
“It pays attention to a more holistic view and how you connect what you do in the classroom to your life,” Hsiao said. “It develops a student's abilities instead of just building knowledge. We want the students to be equipped before they go into the world.”
IDEAs in Action will improve upon current curriculum, Siedentop said, by helping students to see the advantages of the courses they are taking as they move toward their future careers.
“The one thing that the new curriculum has done a really good job at is helping to explain to students the benefits of this curriculum and how it will serve them as students and help them as future leaders and engaged citizens,” Siedentop said. “We are moving away from this concept of checking off boxes and fulfilling requirements.”
Henry Shriver, a sophomore majoring in journalism and media and public policy, said that, even though students who began their UNC degree before fall 2022 will not take part in IDEAs in Action, the current curriculum still provides many opportunities to discover new interests.
“It has led me to some passions I did not have before,” Shriver said. “I may be minoring in art history because I took an Introduction to American Art class and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
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