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The IDEAs in Action Curriculum, approved by Faculty Council in spring 2019 and launching in fall 2022, defines and describes the General Education requirements for all undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The overall goal of the new curriculum is to form graduates who have the capacities, tendencies, and habits of mind to approach the world with inquiry, investigation, evidence, judgment, and creativity.

Below you will find information about resources for faculty, the new General Education requirements, and the implementation process. Additional information and resource documents can be found in the sidebar menu.

This page is primarily aimed at faculty and staff. If you are a student seeking more information about this curriculum, please visit the main IDEAs in Action website.

For Faculty

Faculty are encouraged to apply the information on this page to their CIM course proposals and course syllabi. Information about general policies and syllabi creation can be accessed on our Syllabus Guidelines page. All student learning outcomes and recurring capacities are available on the IDEAs in Action website. Questions should be directed to the Curriculum Director or the First Year Curriculum Specialist.


First Year Foundations

In their first year, students learn about new areas and develop foundational capacities they will use throughout their college careers and beyond.

First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch (FY-Seminar/FY-Launch)

As students acclimate to large university, a small class led by a full-time faculty member can link them with others who share similar interests. This helps students establish personal connections. First-year students must take a First-Year Seminar or a First-Year Launch course.

Ideas, Information and Inquiry (FY-Triple)

Triple-I courses teach the power of interdisciplinary thinking and the value of crossing disciplinary boundaries. Each course brings together three outstanding professors from different departments so that students can study a common theme from several perspectives. Triple-I courses offer a unique chance for students and instructors to explore the strengths, weaknesses, distinctions, and similarities among disciplines and approaches.The fourth credit hour of each Triple-I course will be dedicated to data literacy. The Data Literacy component introduces students to the ways in which professionals think about and manage data to support a claim, perspective, or proposition.

First Year Thriving (FY-Thrive)

College Thriving empowers all students to participate fully in the opportunities of a research university and find resources to support them in a rigorous academic setting. The course enhances and provides new tools to support students’ ability to study systematically, learn deeply, and monitor and foster their own well-being.

Writing at the Research University (FY-Writing)

ENGL 105 introduces students to academic writing across the disciplines of natural sciences, social sciences, or business, and humanities. The course develops advanced writing skills that focus on identifying how genres, styles of writing, arguments, and forms of evidence differ across disciplines, audiences, and purposes. Studying and practicing the conventions of writing in different disciplines will help you become a more versatile writer, which in turn will help you in other college courses.

Global Language – GLBL-LANG

Studying a global language, through level 3, students consider the nature and structure of their native language and reflect upon their own cultural norms while gaining functional linguistic proficiency in the language of study, as well as an appreciation of the cultures and worldviews represented.

Focus Capacities

During their Carolina careers, students take a set of Focus Capacity courses that introduce and reinforce a set of focused capacities that help them identify, discovery explore, and act.

Aesthetic & Interpretative Analysis (FC-AESTH)

Students develop the ability to analyze literature and/or other artistic works, to understand how they relate to the historical circumstances of their creation, and to think critically about the past, present, and future contributions of these works to a shared world.

Creative Expression, Practice, and Production (FC-CREATE)

Students engage in individual and collaborative creative expression, exploration, or production, such as performance, visual art, composition, design, or technology. They engage with tools, techniques, methods, design processes, technologies, and materials for creating works that express, innovate, or create solutions to problems.

Engagement with the Human Past (FC-PAST)

Students acquire knowledge through evidence about human experience in one or more eras of the human past and learn to evaluate, synthesize, and communicate that evidence, applying it to their lives in the present.

Ethical and Civic Values (FC-VALUES)

Students develop their capacity to think carefully and critically about how to make and justify private and public decisions.

Global Understanding and Engagement (FC-GLOBAL)

Students study and engage with global processes shaping the world and its peoples, including those beyond the North Atlantic region (United States, Canada, and Western Europe). They develop deep knowledge of historic or contemporary roles and differential effects of human organizations and actions on global systems.

Natural Scientific Investigation (FC-NATSCI)

Students learn how to make and interpret scientific descriptions and explanations of the natural world, practice the skills of scientific inquiry, and evaluate scientific evidence within the contexts of both scientific communities and society.

Power, Difference, and Inequality (FC-POWER)

Students engage with the histories, perspectives, politics, intellectual traditions, and/or expressive cultures of populations and communities that have historically been disempowered, and the structural and historical processes by which that disempowerment has endured and changed.

Quantitative Reasoning (FC-QUANT)

Students learn to comprehend and apply mathematical concepts in authentic contexts, developing tools for reasoning with data, logic, and quantitative methods.

Ways of Knowing (FC-KNOWING)

Students develop intellectual humility, learning to question assumptions, categories, and norms that structure their worldviews and to understand the sources and effects of biases. They learn, use, and distinguish strengths and weaknesses of one or more approach(es) to knowledge of the unfamiliar, such as: aesthetically, philosophically, linguistically, historically, or culturally remote forms of knowledge and worldmaking, or formal logic, scientific practice, and similar formalized approaches to countering bias and creating knowledge.

Empirical Investigation Lab (FC-LAB)

One Focus Capacity course (see above) must include or be associated with a one-credit Empirical Investigation Lab. In such labs, students participate in measurement, data collection and analysis, and hypothesis testing connected to the course content.

Reflection & Integration

As students move through the curriculum, IDEAs in Action call for them to put their capacities into practice through concrete experiences. These opportunities help students reflect upon, deepen, and connect knowledge and capacities.

Research and Discovery (RESEARCH)

Students immerse themselves in a research project and experience the reflection and revision involved in producing and disseminating original scholarship or creative works.

Communication Beyond Carolina (COMMBEYOND)

Students build capacities for producing and listening to oral communication across a range of contexts. With multiple audiences, they learn to listen to and persuasively convey knowledge, ideas, and information.

High-Impact Experience

All students must have one high-impact experience. These are experiences that are novel to the student, substantial in commitment, and intellectual in some way.

Study Abroad (HI-ABROAD)

Students enrich and expand their academic study by engaging in immersive learning experiences abroad, at U.S. study sites, or in global virtual classrooms.

Internship (HI-INTERN)

Students enrich and expand their academic study by engaging in compelling professional experiences that transform their learning.

Service Learning (HI-SERVICE)

Students enrich and expand their academic study by engaging in compelling public service experiences that transform their learning.

Performance (HI-PERFORM)

Students enrich and expand their academic study by engaging in compelling creative experiences that transform their learning.

Undergraduate Learning Assistant or Other Teaching Experiences (HI-LEARNTA)

Students enrich and expand their academic study by engaging in compelling teaching experiences that transform their learning.

Collaborative Online International Learning (HI-COIL)

COIL courses connect UNC students and instructors with peers at a university in another country for shared teaching and experiential learning. Students and faculty work together, negotiating differences of language, culture, geography, society, technology, and educational systems.

Complete a second Research and Discovery course (see above)

Lifetime Fitness (LIFE-FIT)

To gain facility and knowledge of life-long physical wellness, students must participate in a Lifetime Fitness class. This class combines instruction in and practice of a sports or physical activity along with instruction in physical well-being (exercise and fitness) to promote lifelong fitness.

Campus Life Experience (CAMPUS-EXP)

Students experience the artistic, intellectual, and political life of the UNC campus and connect these experiences with their academic work. All students will attend at least two on-campus organized activities, such as performances, talks, panels, workshops, etc., for each semester they are enrolled on campus.


A General Education Implementation Team has been charged with developing an implementation plan that ensures this new curriculum has the infrastructure and resources necessary to be successful for students, faculty, and staff at the University. A full list of implementation team members is available to download. For additional information about implementation, see the links below.

General Education Attribute Codes

Stakeholder Reports

February 2021
March 2021

Questions? Please contact the Curriculum Director.