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Triple-I: Ideas, Information, & Inquiry


Each Triple-I course brings together three outstanding professors from different departments across the university so that students can study a common theme from several perspectives. These courses offer unique opportunities for students to join some of UNC’s top scholars as they investigate big ideas, while making connections and drawing distinctions between diverse disciplines and approaches. Students will develop key critical-thinking skills with lasting impacts on their future studies and life experiences. Triple-I courses demonstrate the power of multi-disciplinary thinking in an increasingly complex world.

Learning Outcomes

These are the learning outcomes that are expected of students after completing a Triple-I course.


Gain exposure to the three disciplines and their methods of inquiry.


Compare and contrast different ways that scholars address a question, problem, or theme.


Understand the power of approaching a topic from multiple perspectives.


Learn how different disciplines understand and use data and evidence.

Data Literacy Lab

When students register for the three-credit Triple-I, they will also register for a corresponding one-credit Data Literacy Lab. This largely workshop-style class introduces students to the ways in which professional data analysts think about and manage data, as well as the techniques and considerations that are involved in transforming data into information to support a claim, perspective or proposition.

This class introduces students to some important concepts that can help them make more informed decisions about how to work with data, while at the same time, getting them familiar with some of the tools professionals use when working with data. Students practice on datasets that have been put together by past students in this class, and through that practice, they learn how to prepare data for analysis and explore data through visualizations.

Student Feedback

logo“Going into my freshman year, I was very unsure of what I was interested in and thought I would be undecided in my major far into my journey at UNC. Taking the III course that was offered to me in my first semester completely changed this belief as I found myself studying two subjects that I started to fall in love with, and was even able to see how they could connect and work together. Thanks to the experiences and opportunities provided in Humans and the Cosmos, I was able to confidently (and eagerly!) declare philosophy and data science as my major and minor courses of study, and I have not looked back since!”

L. M.
Student in IDST-190 & IDST-190L

logo“While some might be hesitant to take part in a data literacy class their freshman year, the knowledge I gained from this one-credit course has proven invaluable. From gaining a sociological standpoint on the impact of information and data to grappling with excel formulas, Professor Lang’s videos are advantageous resources helping me in my current role as an intern and will indeed support me for many years to come.”

K. P.
Student in IDST-190 & IDST-190L

logo“Before this class, I had no experience organizing or visualizing data and didn’t realize how many different ways I’d utilize the skills this course taught me. Over half of my classes including gen eds and my specific classes for my major incorporated at least one of the platforms we learned about, like Excel. This course included a wide range of information without it being overwhelming by keeping the content relevant to ways college students could employ the information and I would recommend it to every student in a heartbeat.”

A. D.
Student in IDST-190 & IDST-190L

Fall 2024 Course Offerings

Check Connect Carolina for the most up-to-date information about offerings, meeting times, Instructional modes, and availability.

  • Seats are limited to first-year students (and transfer students in their first year who completed fewer than 24 hours of post-college class credit at another institution prior to arrival at UNC-CH).
  • Students must enroll in both the Triple-I and it’s corresponding Data Literacy Lab.
  • Students may only register for one (1) Triple-I + (1) Data Literacy Lab during their time at UNC-CH.

There are a variety of courses you can take to meet the Triple-I requirement:

IDST 113-001: The Idea of Race

TTH, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM | Instructors: Michael Terry, Dave Pier, Daniel Matute | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 113L-401

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.

Michael Terry

Michael Terry is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics and adjunct associate professor in the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He researches the structure of dialects and the implications of dialectal differences for linguistic theory and educational practice.

Dave Pier

Dave Pier specializes in music, art, literature, and cultural politics in Africa and the African diaspora. His book, Ugandan Music in the Marketing Era, is an ethnographic study of folklore performance, corporate arts sponsorship, branding, and grassroots entrepreneurialism in contemporary Uganda. Currently, he is researching kadongo kamu, a Ugandan guitar-based pop music genre. He is also writing about the development of modern/contemporary dance in this country. Pier serves on the editorial board for the journal African Arts, as well as on the advisory board for UNC’s Process Series. He teaches Introduction to Africa, Music of Africa, Music of African Diasporas, Politics of Cultural Production in Africa, and a freshman seminar on Afrofuturism. As a jazz pianist, he has performed and recorded with Clark Terry, Jane Monheit, Roswell Rudd, Marcus Belgrave, and other jazz luminaries.

Daniel Matute


IDST 114-001: Science Fiction, the Environment, and Vulnerable Communities

TTH, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM | Instructors: Tanya Shields, Priscilla Layne, Michelle Haskin | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 114L-401

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.

Tanya Shields

Tanya Shields is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. Dr. Shields believes that teaching should engage students’ everyday lives by helping them make connections between the past and the present. Her research area is the Caribbean, specifically literature and its role in Caribbean belonging.

Priscilla Layne

After completing her BA in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, where Professor Priscilla Layne concentrated on German and English literature, she spent three years in Germany. She received both a Fulbright TA fellowship and a scholarship from the Study Foundation of the Berlin Parliament. In 2005, Professor Layne continued her studies at the University of California at Berkeley where she received her MA in 2006 and PhD in 2011. In fall 2011, she joined the faculty of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michelle Haskin

Michelle Haskin is an Assistant Teaching Professor who strives to facilitate undergraduate learning through equitable pedagogical practices and collaborative learning. She has an interest in metacognition and applying learning strategies to help students discover new ways to approach and reframe their learning. She has taught over 2300 UNC students and looks forward to teaching many more.


IDST 116-001: Gender

TTH, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM | Instructors: Maxine Eichner, Cary Levine, Anna Bardone-Cone | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 116L-401

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.

Maxine Eichner

Maxine Eichner, the Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Law, writes on issues at the intersection of law and political theory, focusing particularly on family relationships, social welfare law and policy; feminist theory; sexuality; and the relationship of the family, the workplace, and market forces. Professor Eichner is the author of The Supportive State: Families, Government, and America’s Political Ideals (Oxford University Press, 2010). She is now finishing a second book, The Free-Market Family: How the Market Crushed the American Dream (and How It Can Be Restored), which considers the harsh effects that market forces are having on American families today, and which argues that the government’s role is to shield families from these forces. She is also an editor of Family Law: Cases, Text, Problems (eds., Ellman, Kurtz, Weithorn, Bix, Czapanskiy, and Eichner, 2014). In addition, she has written numerous articles and chapters for law reviews, peer-reviewed journals, and edited volumes on law and political theory.

Cary Levine

Cary Levine is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History. His first book, Pay for Your Pleasures: Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, examines the work of three important Southern California artists. His second book, The Future is Present: Art, Technology, and the Work of Mobile Image focuses on the intersections of art, politics, and technology. He was a 2020 recipient of the Art Journal Award and a 2014 recipient of the Hettleman Prize for Scholarly Achievement at UNC. He has lectured nationally and internationally, has written for various magazines and museum catalogues, and previously worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Anna Bardone-Cone

Anna Bardone-Cone, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. She graduated from Williams College with a BA in Mathematics and French, received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her predoctoral clinical psychology internship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Her research interests are in eating disorders and body image, in particular: 1) defining eating disorder recovery; 2) identifying and testing pathways to disordered eating with particular interest in the role played by psychosocial variables (e.g., perfectionism, self-efficacy, social comparison, stress) and how these variables interact; and 3) examining cultural, familial, and media factors related to disordered eating and body image.


IDST 129-001: Countering Hate

TTH, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM | Instructors: Yaakov Ariel, Peter Gordon, Afroz Taj | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 129L-401

Many of our social problems appear to stem from feelings of animosity people have towards others: racism, misogyny, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, white supremacy, etc. At the same time, many of our most profound cultural endeavors are aimed at overcoming the fears, suspicions, and misunderstandings that underpin that animosity. In this class, we examine the cognitive and psychological bases for animosity towards others, and how our political and social structures have fostered such feelings. We then examine cultural efforts to overcome them through performance, literature, visual representations (including film, photography, and other visual arts), and faith. The questions we will address include: How have performers, directors, writers, artists, and faith leaders addressed problems of hate and misrepresentation in their work? How do writers and other artists approach painful moments in history? How can our practices of reading, viewing, or listening counter hate? What role do faith communities play in generating and countering hate?

Yaakov Ariel

Much of Yaakov Ariel’s research has focused on Protestantism, especially Evangelical Christianity, and its attitudes towards the Jewish people and the Holy Land; on Christian-Jewish relations in the late modern era; and on the Jewish reaction to modernity and postmodernity. He has published numerous articles and three books on these subjects. One of these books, Evangelizing the Chosen People, was awarded the Albert C. Outler prize by the American Society of Church History. His latest book, An Unusual Relationship: Evangelical Christians and Jews, was published in 2013 by New York University Press. His current project looks at the religious aspects in the life and career of poet Allen Ginsberg who was, in significant ways, a pioneer and prophet to many of his generation.

Peter Gordon

Peter Gordon’s field is the psychology of language and his interests in that field are very broad. Right now his basic research focuses on several topics related to word recognition and to higher levels of language comprehension. These include: the nature of the memory processes involved in understanding complex sentences, the interaction between lexical and higher-levels of language processing, and the coordination of language processing with more general mechanisms of memory, perception, attention, and motor control. Research on these topics in his laboratory uses two primary methods, eye-tracking during reading and measurement of event-related potentials (ERPs).

Afroz Taj

Afroz Taj’s research and teaching center around South Asian media, with emphasis on the film industry and television. His book, The Court of Indra and the Rebirth of North Indian Drama, explores the origins of the Urdu-Hindi musical theater in mid-nineteenth century Lucknow. His current book project focuses on the dynamics of the transition from the Parsi theater to early sound films in the 1920s and 1930s. He is also interested in the aesthetics of cinema, filmmaking techniques and technologies, and the history of Bollywood. While researching the history of Indian cinema he began to collect past issues of Shama magazine; in his next project, he will trace the impact of Shama on South Asian popular culture, including its visual and verbal constructions of gender identity in twentieth-century India and Pakistan.
Dr. Taj is also a creative writer: he has written, published, and recited his ghazals, geet, dohe, and short stories in Urdu and Hindi. Over the past ten years, he have undertaken to film interviews with important literary figures of South Asia, and he has made a number of short films in conjunction with the Door Into Hindi and Darvazah language-learning websites. His interest in media has enabled him to pioneer the use of new technologies and multimedia resources in language teaching.


IDST 130-001: The Future of Food

MWF, 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM | Instructors: John Bruno, Caela O’Connell, Anna Krome-Lukens | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 130L-401

You’ve probably been offered almond milk, but have you heard of potato milk? It’s coming. The ways we make, eat, and think about food are constantly changing. What will food look like a decade or century from now? This course combines perspectives from science fiction, anthropology, public policy, and marine ecology to address related questions: How has our love of and need for food influenced our social and political structures, trade and conflict among cultures, and exploration of our planet? How does food affect our relationships and shape our sense of who we are? How do policy choices shape the food we eat? How can we feed 8 billion humans without sacrificing the environment? How might technology and innovation shape our future food? This class will probably make you really hungry, and it might even change how you think about the food you eat.

John Bruno

John Bruno is a marine ecologist and Professor in the Department of Biology. His research is focused on marine biodiversity and macroecology, coral reef ecology and conservation, and the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. He earned his Ph.D. from Brown University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University in disease ecology. His lab group primarily works in the Galápagos and the Caribbean – including Belize, the Bahamas, and Cuba. He is also a science communicator and co-developer of the oceans website SeaMonster.

Caela O’Connell

Caela O’Connell is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the Environment, Ecology, and Energy Program. She got hooked on researching farmers and the environment in particular while studying Spanish at the Universidad de Habana in Cuba. Dr. O’Connell runs the Socio-Ecological Change Research Lab (SECR Lab) at UNC investigating different aspects of sustainability, agriculture, inequality, water, disasters, adaptation, crisis and environmental conservation and partnering with community organizations for engaged scholarship. Her work is primarily in the Caribbean and North and South America. When not thinking about the future for farming and our global environment, Dr. O'Connel enjoys cooking, baking for friends, hiking (nothing too steep), taekwondo, tracking hurricanes, and traveling with her family.

Anna Krome-Lukens

Anna Krome-Lukens is a Teaching Associate Professor in Public Policy. Her research focuses on the history of welfare and public health policies. She teaches courses about the intersection of policy and history, including “Why History Matters to Public Policy” and a first-year seminar on higher education policy. She also directs the UNC Public Policy Capstone program, facilitating the work of student teams who do policy analysis for non-profits and government agencies. She loves thinking about how the history of food systems shapes their possible futures, and she also loves cheese.


IDST 132-001: Science for Hyperpartisan Times

MWF, 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM | Instructors: Matthew Springer, Jeffrey Warren, Christian Lundberg | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 132L-401

This course aims to help students navigate the messy intersection of science, policy, and politics by teaching how the substance, history, presentation, interpretation of science – as well as education about science – influence our understandings of the world. Students will: 1) analyze public discourse, education, and debate about science, 2) consider how philosophies, knowledge, data, and interpretations are created, delivered, and received, and 3) discuss how these factors – alongside partisan politics and bias from both sides of the aisle – influence science policy outcomes.

Matthew Springer

Matthew G. Springer is an interdisciplinary policy scholar by training and studies educational innovations and policies for improving system effectiveness and access to educational opportunities. Matt consults widely with government agencies and international organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Government Accountability Office, the National Governor’s Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the United Kingdom and Mexico governments, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He has taught courses on the history and current trends in higher education, educator policy, education finance, research methods and causal inference, policy analysis, reading and writing academic research, and public policymaking. Matt’s research has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN’s Top of the Hour, National Public Radio, and The New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. He is a managing partner at Basis Policy Research, an applied research and technical assistance firm with offices in Denver, Co, Grand Rapids, MI, and Hillsborough, NC. Before joining Basis, Matt was the Hussman Distinguished Professor of Education Reform at UNC and an education and public policy faculty member at Vanderbilt University.

Jeffrey Warren

Formally trained as a marine geologist, Jeff Warren has spent the past 17 and a half years in State-level science policy positions including the coastal hazards policy specialist for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (2004 to 2010), the science advisor for the North Carolina Senate (2011 to 2017) and, most recently, the research director and now executive director for the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2017 to present). Warren earned his BSc in geological sciences from the University of Arizona (1994), his MSc in geology from Auburn University (1997), and his PhD in geological sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2006). Warren’s academic research included field sites in the southeastern US, northern Mexico, the East and South China Seas, and Antarctica for which he received the Antarctica Service medal of the United States of America from the National Science Foundation. In addition to his primary duties at UNC Chapel Hill with the Collaboratory, Warren has also been appointed a Professor of Practice in the Department of Public Policy.

Christian Lundberg

Chris Lundberg is a professor of rhetoric, a political consultant, and a corporate communications strategist. He is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at UNC Chapel Hill, where he writes about and teaches courses in public speaking, debate, persuasive communication and political rhetoric.
His academic work includes multiple books and award-winning articles on rhetoric, speech, and persuasion, including: The Essential Guide to Rhetoric (Bedford St. Martin’s, 2008, 2e 2017); Public Speaking: Choices and Responsibility (Cengage Publishers, 2014, 2e 2016, 3e 2022); and a book about the psychology of public persuasion called Lacan in Public: Psychoanalysis and the Science of Rhetoric (University of Alabama Press, 2012). He has served as a debate and messaging consultant for numerous US Senate races, gubernatorial campaigns, and cabinet-level confirmation processes. His international work features extensive work in the United Kingdom, including work on the UK Prime Ministership, the Scottish leadership election, and consulting services for the “Vote Leave” campaign during the EU referendum. He is also the founder and CEO of Vocable Communications, a speech focused and data-driven communication consultancy serving senior leadership at multiple fortune 500 corporations. He received his Ph.D. in rhetoric from Northwestern University’s School of Communication in 2006, and his Master of Divinity from Emory University in 2000. In addition to his experience in the classroom and with consulting clients, he has over fifteen years of experience in speech and debate coaching, serving most recently as a coach and argument consultant for Harvard University. He has coached national championship intercollegiate debate teams at four separate universities (Liberty University, Emory University, Northwestern University, and Harvard University), and has coached multiple competitors to the top individual speaker award at the National Debate Tournament.


IDST 190-001: Relational Leadership

TTH, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM | Instructors: Sophia Aliaga, Meg Zomorodi | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 190L-401

This course is designed to expose to students to the principles of relational leadership– a human-centered approach to working better together that prioritizes the quality of our relationships as a driving force that increases collaboration, equity, and impact across health systems and communities. Students will apply the relational leadership framework to develop tangible skills for advancing teamwork, communication, collaborative decision making, psychological safety, and trust. Students will have interactions with multiple leaders in healthcare, community, and academic spaces, building a network of community while also focusing on their individual growth in leadership. Both professors will share their application of relational leadership as they have built infrastructure and systems for engaged partnership and community building. Dr. Zomorodi’s expertise in building pan-university partnerships and engagement with rural communities blends nicely with Dr. Aliaga’s expertise focused on relationship building in hierarchical systems and across the care continuum. 

Sophia Aliaga

Sofia Aliaga is a Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine, Director of Interprofessional Education and Practice for the School of Medicine, Director of the School of Medicine Simulation, Experiential Learning and Training Center, and associate program director for the pediatric residency. Sofia is committed to advancing simulation to support interprofessional education in health care. Sofia completed her medical school training in Lima, Peru and is bilingual in Spanish and English. She completed her pediatric residency training at the University of Colorado and The Children’s Hospital of Colorado. She has been a Tar Heel since moving to the area for her neonatology subspecialty training in 2007. During that time, she also completed a Master of Public Health degree. Sofia is looking forward to teaching this course and continuing to grow the Relational Leadership community.

Meg Zomorodi

Meg Zomorodi is a Professor in the School of Nursing and Associate Provost for Interprofessional Health Initiatives. In her role in the Provost office, she oversees the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice and the Office of Health Professions Advising. Meg has a passion for teaching, especially across disciplines and teaches courses and guest lectures in a variety of courses across campus. A double Tar Heel—Meg has both graduate and undergraduate degrees from UNC Chapel Hill and believes that the best way to lead is to form connections and establish relationships. In her current role, she builds opportunities for collaboration across health professions, engages with rural communities to support workforce needs, and works with different groups to build infrastructure for change. She likes to build stuff---and loves puzzles and problem solving. Meg is excited to teach this course as it is a way to share the Relational Leadership framework with students and to help empower the change agents of the future.


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