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The Daily Tar Heel

Last semester, I took Religious Studies 209: Varieties of Early Christianity. Walking into the first day of class, I immediately heard my professor mention the term “pagan” — a foreign word to me at the time. 

I heard whispers of people who clearly had background knowledge in religious studies. As they started comparing some of their favorite stories of saints and apostles, I said to myself, “Oh I'm dropping this class!” 

I hold zero judgment on people who are very knowledgeable about religion, their beliefs or spirituality. It’s just not a topic I am well-educated on. Instantly, I felt overwhelmed knowing none of the jargon that my classmates did. 

Spoiler alert: I did not drop out of the class (and not to brag: but I got an A!). 

I didn’t have to worry about pleasing the professor because she didn’t determine whether I’d get into the major. I didn’t have to worry about making sure I liked all the content of the class because it had nothing to do with the field I want to enter into. I didn’t have to worry about being the very best student in the class either — for the first time, I got to learn with no pressure. 

I would’ve never even thought of taking a 200-level religion class as an advertising and public relations major, let alone nor fought for it during course registration. The only reason I did add it to my shopping cart, was for the ideal fact that the lecture only met on Mondays and Wednesdays, leaving me with no Friday class.

I wouldn’t have had this awakening of an experience in such a random class, if it weren’t for UNC's IDEAS in Action requirements. The curriculum requires students to take classes that are typically unconventional for their academic plans. 

In this class, I sat next to a nursing major, a public policy major, a music major and an economics major. None of us were the same. 

Admittedly, the curriculum isn't perfect. I wouldn’t necessarily praise the Triple-I classes — more formally known as Triple-I: Ideas, Information & Inquiry — but it at least allowed me and my freshman-year roommate to have one class together, despite the fact that we had drastically different majors.

IDEAS in Action encourages the study of liberal arts, which is rare at our public research university, especially with professional schools like Gillings and Kenan-Flagler soaking up all the spotlight. 

Ordinarily, these non major-specific classes wouldn’t get as much love or attention, but with certain Focus Capacities like Creative Expression and Aesthetic & Interpretive Analysis, these subjects don’t go neglected.

So, call me the Justin Martyr of the IDEAS in Action curriculum if you want, but I believe they allow our campus to have more diverse classes. What fun would it be if we all sat in competitive major-related classes all day with the same people? 

It certainly would not be worth the money we all muster up to experience the Southern part of Heaven.

I'm not saying I really learned anything in College Thriving, other than having made a few new friends and familiar faces. 

We had a common enemy in hating the class together, but the class did force me to get involved and be a little more informed about my campus. I never would’ve gotten up the confidence to take myself to office hours as a scared first-semester first-year, had the class not prompted me to do so.

IDEAS in Action needs to be applied further to department-specific courses and classes within professional schools. Classes like Business Administration 100 or Psychology 101, both entry-level and gateways for future academic paths, do not satisfy any general education credit. Students should have abundant options to choose from that are a Focus Capacity credit. 

The curriculum allows you to be human. We’re not machines and we shouldn’t be expected to go to college and know exactly what we want to do, when we want to do it, how we’re going to do it, and so forth. 

IDEAS in Action doesn’t guarantee you’ll find something new and exciting about yourself. It may be temporarily uncomfortable, too, but this discomfort will allow you to grow and make the most of your Carolina experience.

@dthopinion | opinion@dailytarheel.com

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