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The Ideas, Information, and Inquiry (Triple-I) program is designed to teach the power of disciplinary thinking—and the value of crossing disciplinary boundaries. No student arrives at Carolina with a full understanding of all the academic opportunities available on campus. Few understand how multiple disciplines rigorously define and test problems or create and share knowledge. Triple-I courses introduce students to disciplines they may not even be aware of early in their academic careers, with the possibility they could decide to major or minor in such areas.

Triple-I classes are large (typically 250 students) broadly interdisciplinary courses that introduce students to a wide range of academic subject areas and to four key capacities. They are taught by teams of three faculty members whose disciplinary, research, and/or scholarly approaches differ significantly from one another.

Courses are organized around a broad theme that highlights the different approaches among the team. Instructors explore with students the strengths, weaknesses, distinctions, and similarities among disciplines and approaches. Triple-I courses also help students to develop four key capacities that they will extend through further study: foundations of data science, global awareness, principles of evidence, and collaboration.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Compare and contrast three distinct ways of addressing a question.
  • Use data and evidence to apply key methods of and concerns associated with data science.
  • Situate ideas and experiences in global contexts.
  • Collaborate with others for mutual benefit.

Benefits to teaching a Triple-I course:

  • Collaborate with colleagues from different fields/departments/schools
  • Learn new instructional techniques and strategies
  • Engage with first-year students

If you are ready to form a team, join an existing team, or have a brilliant topic, please read the “Start the Process” tab.

  1. Form Your Teaching Team
    • Propose a topic and develop your team (See list of suggested topics in Course Topics List tab above or create your own)
    • Join a team with a topic in development (see Course Topics List tab above)
  2. Confirm with your department chairs
  3. Submit Prospectus Form
    • New AY 2021-22 Prospectus Deadline: June 15, 2020 (this will be for fall 2021 & spring 2022 course proposals)
    • For AY 2022-23 and later, the due dates for new proposals are April 15 for the following spring and November 1 for the following fall.
    • Please note, the Triple-I Program will not be piloting courses in spring 2021

Have questions? Email Faculty Director Cary Levine ( or First-Year Curriculum Specialist Ben Haven (

Click on the course title heading to see information about the course topic, instructors, and a sample syllabus (if available).

Offered: Spring 2019 (Syllabus)

  • Luc Bovens, Department of Philosophy
  • Douglas MacKay, Department of Public Policy
  • Brian McManus, Department of Economics

This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of some core conceptual tools used to analyze issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). It introduces students to the tools of economic analysis, including markets, prices, economic efficiency, welfare measures, and market failures. It discusses the philosophical dimensions of economics and public policy, including discussion of the nature of utility or well-being, the ethics of the price system, the value of individual liberty, and the nature of socio-economic justice. It also introduces students to the tools of political or institutional analysis, including game theory and public choice. This collection of tools, which are often employed in isolation, gain considerable power when they are brought together. Students will read widely on PPE tools, and they will explore applications to contemporary social problems. Lectures and recitations will feature a mix of traditional lectures, group work and discussions, simulations, and strategy games.

Offered: Fall 2019 (Syllabus), Spring 2019

  • Jeannie Loeb, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Jocelyn Chua, Department of Anthropology
  • TIm Marr, Department of American Studies (Spring 2019)
  • Jennifer Larson, Department of English and Comparative Literature (Fall 2019)

Death and dying are universal human experiences. Yet there is immense cultural variation and historical fluidity to the ways we define, understand and treat death, dying and relations between the living and the dead. This course explores the concepts of death and dying from three different disciplines (examples may include, but are not limited to, Anthropology, English and Comparative Literature, and Psychology and Neuroscience). This course will consider similarities and differences between the three discipline research methodologies and will also introduce students to data literacy and principles of evidence.

Offered: Spring 2020, Spring 2019

  • David Pier, Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies
  • J. Michael Terr, Department of Linguistics
  • Daniel Matute, Department of Biology

This course, taught by a biologist, a linguist, and an ethnomusicologist, focuses on the idea of “race.” Historically, the idea that humans can be divided into distinct races has been a singularly pernicious one, having been used to justify the persecution, enslavement, and extermination of groups based on their presumed biological inferiority. Today, scientists agree that race is a false and distorting concept for understanding biological diversity among humans: what we describe as races are in fact social constructs, not genetic realities. Nonetheless, the idea of biological race persists in the popular imagination. In this course, students learn why race is not a viable human biological concept, how the idea of race arose historically (and continues to be maintained), and what alternative concepts exist for understanding human diversity and change over time.

Offered: Spring 2019

  • Priscilla Layne, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Courtney Wooods, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering (Public Health)
  • Michele Berger, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

This course focuses on the question of how the genre of science fiction (film and literature) has been used to address the world’s environmental concerns and how these concerns affect characters differently depending on their gender, race, and class. Using this lens, the course investigates longstanding global environmental challenges including water resources, overpopulation, consumption, climate change, etc. This course provides students with a complex toolkit to understand environmental issues. We pay special attention to texts with characters or created by artists who are women and/or ethnic minorities. Our focus throughout the course is support comparative, global, intersectional and interdisciplinary thinking.

Offered: Spring 2020, Spring 2019 (Syllabus)

  • Arne Kalleberg, Department of Sociology
  • Barbara Fredrickson, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Claudio Battaglini, Department of Exercise and Sport Science

This course will expose students to diverse approaches to studying topics related to happiness and subjective and physical well-being. The three professors will approach this topic from three disciplines: physiology; positive psychology; and sociology. An important aspect of the course is teaching students a variety of life skills, such as teamwork, developing social connections including “belongingness” at UNC, being physically active, and becoming confident that they can obtain the skills to increase their happiness and health.

Offered: Fall 2019

  • Anna Bardone-Cone, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Cary Levine, Department of Art and Art History
  • Maxine Eichner, School of Law

What is gender and where does it come from? Is gender something that people are born with? Or are they socialized into gender roles? Is gender in the eye of the beholder? To what extent do artists represent gender issues differently? How might one best critique or challenge gender norms? Are gender differences legal ground for treating men and women differently? Or should the law prohibit treating people differently based on gender? This course will consider these questions and more through the lenses of psychology, art, history, and law. The class will explore gender-related experiences across the lifespan, consider how gender has been represented and challenged in art throughout history, and discuss the differing ways that courts and lawyers have approached cases involving gender. This course will establish a foundation from which students can think critically about gender from multiple perspectives—personal, social, cultural, political, and juridical.

Offered: Fall 2019

  • Gabriela Valdivia, Department of Geography
  • Gosia Lee, Department of Romance Studies
  • Susan Harbage Page, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

This Triple-I course is taught by a visual artist, a Spanish teacher, and a geographer. It examines linguistic, geopolitical, and socio-environmental boundaries to foster an intersectional understanding of identity and belonging in the Americas. Course topics (e.g., migration, justice, and environmental wellbeing) are examined through Spanish language-based films and artwork. Critically engaging with a variety of films, students will expand their speaking, writing, vocabulary and grammar in Spanish language and study in context art and have an opportunity to discuss and learn about global issues, indigenous populations, transnational connections between different countries (immigration, cultural adaptations, labor and exploitation, ethnicity and religion) and diversity (gender issues, class, regional and religious differences). Students are asked to respond to films and art with individual and collaborative assignments that involve performance, creative design, and fabrication. The assignments seek to forge connections between the arts, humanities, and sciences. Students will create e-portfolios to feature their creations and the skills gained to a broader audience.

Offered: Fall 2020

  • Megan Plenge, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Troy Sadler, School of Education
  • Kate Sheppard, School of Media and Journalism

Students often come into science courses with preconceptions about how the world works. These preconceptions are often retained even if the course content illustrates that they are incorrect. The role of educators then is not only to teach students new content, but also to help them to dismantle pre-existing misconceptions so that they can create new foundational ideas for understanding science.

This course will explore how news media’s portrayals of controversies (or perceived controversies) in science affects how students learn in the classroom. Students will be taught science content using passive and active instructional techniques and will analyze the data to explore how each teaching technique addressed their own misconceptions. They will also explore best practices for conveying potentially controversial science information in the news media and analyze how objective science information can become biased prior to media dissemination.

Offered: Fall 2020

  • Melinda Beck, School of Public Health; Department of Nutrition
  • Sarah Dempsey, Department of Communication
  • Lindsey Smith Taillie, School of Public Health; Department of Nutrition

Have you ever really thought about the meal that you just consumed? If you ate a hamburger, fries and milkshake, or a kale salad, where did that meal come from, and what does it mean to you? If you were living in a different country, what might that meal look like? Who are the laborers who made the meal possible? What are the ethics surrounding the work that went into that meal? How does that meal interact with your body? Is your body designed for this food? How do we make policies about food in the US? Is it any different in other countries? What are the ethical concerns of food policy? All of these questions and more will be discussed in this course.

Offered: TBD

  • Fabian Heitsch, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • James Rives, Department of Classics
  • Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy

Astronomy is one of the oldest global enterprises of humanity. This course will focus on astronomy as it developed in the ancient Mediterranean and in early modern Europe, taking students on a voyage through time — from astronomy’s early beginnings as a means to keep calendars and as the underpinnings of mythology, to its central role during the early modern period in the development of natural sciences as we understand them today. The logical, epistemological, and conceptual foundations of early modern astronomy became the model for all future scientific research. Since astronomy lives at the intersection of mythology and language, philosophy, and natural sciences, students will encounter research methods specific to each of the three subjects. Students will acquire the logical, quantitative, and analytic skills necessary for understanding how different epochs interpreted the generation of knowledge; how their interpretations were influenced by their culture, mythology, and religion; and how science arrives at knowledge even when the empirical evidence is logically compatible with many rival theories.

Offered: TBD

  • Florence Dore, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Jocelyn Neal, Department of Music
  • Fitz Brundage, Department of History

The Mason and Dixon line marks a physical boundary, but beyond geographic location, what is the US South? Did its swamps spontaneously produce the blues? Did bluegrass music arise magically from the hills? How did Mississippi produce two such distinct figures as William Faulkner and Elvis Presley, and how were their works related to their origin? What does the history of slavery in the US South have to do with the emergence of country music, R & B, Soul, or Flannery O’Connor’s fiction? Should we understand the New York born James Baldwin as a southern author, given his family’s lineage in the South? In this course, we will examine the South in its cultural and historical incarnations to examine how it both generated and was generated by economic, technological, and political factors. Through textual and data driven analysis, we will come to understand how the South can be simultaneously the birthplace of rock and roll and the origin of the “Southern Strategy”—at once the seat of American authenticity and origin of Coca Cola, America’s first global brand.

Click here for a list of courses in development.

Have an exciting topic idea, but not sure who else to partner with? The Triple-I Team is here to help! Please contact Faculty Director Cary Levine ( for more information.

Have an exciting topic idea, but not sure who else to partner with? The Triple-I Team is here to help! Please contact Faculty Director Cary Levine ( for more information.

Big Misconceptions
Building a Sustainable Future
Character of Place
Clinical Science
Communications and Sustainability
Conflict and Violence
Conflict Resolution
Data Science
Decision Making
Deep Time
Describing People
Economic Inequality
Global Governance
Imagining the Future: Utopia or Armageddon
Opioid Epidemic
Populism Health Disparities

Triple-I Prospectus Form

  • Submit a Prospectus Form if you're proposing a new Ideas, Information, and Inquiry (Triple-I) course. The form is due by June 15, 2020 for courses you plan to offer in AY 2021-22 (i.e., fall 2021/spring 2022). For AY 2022-23 and later, the due dates for new proposals are April 15 for the following spring and November 1 for the following fall. Before you fill out this form, please be sure that you have
    • read through Triple-I requirements
    • a draft of the course syllabus
    • endorsements from all involved department/curriculum chairs with an agreement that this course will be offered at least three times in the next five years beginning when the course is first taught
    Please note that Triple-I must be scheduled with 250 seats in a standard MWF or TTH meeting pattern.
  • You may upload up to three documents (one for each involved department). If you have not received permission from the faculty members responsible for approving new course offerings (e.g., DUS, associate chair, chair) in each involved department, please contact them before you proceed with this proposal. The endorsement should include an agreement to offer the course at least three times in the next five years beginning when the course is first taught (if helpful, copy and paste the following into your browser window for a form template:
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, jpg, gif, png, xls, xlsx.

  • The Coordinating Instructor will be the primary point of contact for communication with central offices (e.g., the College, Undergraduate Curricula) regarding class scheduling, registration, etc. The business officer in the coordinating instructor's home department will handle allocation of instructional resources.
  • Provide a short paragraph with a description of yourself, including academic interests and personal information. This information will be used to promote your class, so feel free to brag a bit and be interesting. 100 word limit.
  • This will be the primary point of contact for the College of Arts and Sciences' Business Office
  • Provide a short paragraph with a description of yourself, including academic interests and personal information. This information will be used to promote your class, so feel free to brag a bit and be interesting. 100 word limit.
  • Provide a short paragraph with a description of yourself, including academic interests and personal information. This information will be used to promote your class, so feel free to brag a bit and be interesting. 100 word limit.

  • Provide a description that summarizes the course’s content and goals using terms that will be familiar to high school students. We will use this description in various materials that describe your Triple-I course. 150 word limit.
  • Please attach a digital copy of a syllabus for this course.
    Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, jpg, gif, png, xls, xlsx.

    Indicate below how the course will fulfill the Triple-I student learning outcomes.
  • This question is optional. The College's data science team will be in contact with your Triple-I teaching team once the proposal is approved to discuss how to incorporate the data science element into your course. In the meantime, if you think there are elements of the course that already involve data science, you are welcome to indicate them below. This information will be valuable to the data science team in advance of your consultation.


    A Triple-I course can fulfill up to two General Education Requirements, and it is recommended that a Triple-I course fulfill at least one. A Triple-I can fulfill: 1) one Approaches requirement 2) one Connections requirement 3) one Approaches requirement + one Connections requirement or 4) two Connections requirements. For more information about Gen Eds, please see Curriculum Overview: (page 2 has brief descriptions of each Gen Ed)
  • Select up to one Approach.
  • Select up to two Connections.

Class Size, Credit Allocation, and Frequency

  • Triple-I courses are scheduled with a cap of 250 students.
  • Each department/unit is credited with one-third (1/3) of the registered students.
  • Triple-I courses must be offered a minimum of 3 times in a 5 year period beginning when the course is first taught.

Instructional Support

  • $5,000 course development fund for the Triple-I team (one time).
    • Funds may not be used to supplement salary, but are otherwise discretionary (trust-funds). The Triple-I teaching team will decide best use of funds and will notify Business Manager for Coordinating Instructors Home Department or Curriculum (which must be in the College of Arts & Sciences) of allocation and spending decisions.
    • Unspent funds may be carried over for no more than one additional fiscal year (e.g., if funds are awarded in July of 2019 (FY20), they must be spent by June 30, 2021 (FY21), if funds are awarded in February of 2020 (FY20), they must be spent by June 30, 2021 (FY21).
    • Funds will only be made available once the syllabus has been submitted.
    • For syllabi approved over the summer, allocations will be made available in July.
    • No additional development funds will be awarded from the College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office once the course is approved (i.e., if a new instructor is added to the section in later years, the Dean’s Office will not provide further course development funds, however, the home department may do so if they customarily provide course development funds for required courses in their curriculum).
  • Up to $40,000 instructional support
    • Graduate Student – Teaching Assistant (TA)
      • The College has standardized the stipend for Triple-I to $10,000 per TA. The $40,000 instructional support budget will allow the Triple-I faculty to hire four TAs for a student to TA ratio of 62:1.
      • Faculty participating in Triple-I are encouraged to appoint graduate students from their home department/school. The College and the Graduate School will support through state funds the full cost for the assistantship ($10K stipend, in-state tuition award, and fees). Tuition remission for out-of-state graduate students will remain the responsibility of the department/school.
    • Graduate Student – Grader
    • Graduate Research Consultant
    • Undergraduate Learning Assistant. More information available here.


  • Triple-I courses use the IDST subject code.
  • Triple-I courses are scheduled during standard meeting times and do not have recitations. When possible, courses are scheduled either earlier or later in the day to avoid times when other large classes are meeting.
  • The Office of Undergraduate Curricula (OUC) works with the Registrar’s Office to schedule Triple-I classes. If any classroom and/or scheduling changes need to be arranged, please contact OUC, not your department’s student service’s manager.
  • Once your course is approved, please fill out this form to schedule the class section.
    • fall deadline = December 1
    • spring deadline = June 1
  • The following five large classrooms are available for Triple-I (dependent on room availability during the scheduled meeting pattern). You can preview them here.
    • Carroll 111 (419 seats)
    • Genome Science G100 (426 seats)
    • Hamilton 100 (403 seats)
    • Hanes Art Center 121 (296 seats)
    • Stone Center 103 (353 seats)

Student Enrollment

Spring 2019 – Spring 2021 (pilot terms)

  • Open to all students, with priority given to first-year students.

Fall 2021 – beyond

  • Restricted to first-year students.
  • Must be taken for credit and for a grade.
  • Students may not register for more than one Triple-I course.

Data Science/Literacy (4th Credit Hour)

When the IDEAs in Action Curriculum is fully implemented (in fall 2021), each Triple-I course will have a fourth credit hour devoted specifically to data science and data literacy. Instructor teams without expertise in data science will be supported by College-level resources. More information about the fourth credit hour component will be posted soon.