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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

Spring 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 111-001: Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy

TTH, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM | Instructors: Luc Bovens, Douglas MacKay, Brian McManus | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 111L-401

This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of core tools used to analyze issues at the intersection of ethics, economics and public policy. It introduces students to the tools of economic analysis, including markets, prices, and market failures; discusses the ethical dimensions of markets and public policy, including socio-economic justice, the nature of well-being, and individual liberty; and describes challenges in political organization and action that confront policy makers motivated by economic or ethical objectives. During the course, students will see how these related fields provide distinct but complementary perspectives on contemporary issues such as climate change, higher education access and costs, fairness in labor markets, and how technology affects our material well-being and freedom.

Luc Bovens

Professor Bovens is Professor of Philosophy and Core Faculty in UNC’s Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program. His philosophical interests include paradoxes of rationality, issues in formal epistemology, philosophy of economics, political science, and moral psychology. His most recent book is *Coping: A Philosophical Guide* (2021), freely available on the web from OpenBookPublishers.

Douglas MacKay

Douglas MacKay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Policy, and a Core Faculty Member with UNC's Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program and the UNC Center for Bioethics. Dr. MacKay holds a PhD in Philosophy and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on ethics and public policy. He is currently working on projects concerning justice and economic inequality, public policy research ethics, and the ethics of health policy.

Brian McManus

Brian McManus is a Professor in UNC’s Department of Economics, where he also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies. His regular undergraduate and graduate teaching focuses on the strategic actions of firms with market power, including how firms and their customers are impacted by public policy. Professor McManus’s research is in empirical microeconomics, and his recent work examines the pricing of internet access and content, health care policy design, and how individuals deal with asymmetric information in markets and other strategic environments.


IDST 117-001: Experiencing Latin America: Bodies, Belonging, Nature

TTH, 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM | Instructors: Oswaldo Estrada, Gabriela Valdivia, Ariana Vigil | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 117L-401

This Triple-I course is taught by specialists in Latino/a and Latin American literature, geography, and women’s and gender studies. Through assignments forging connections between the arts, humanities, and social sciences, this course offers creative methods and approaches that encourage an intersectional understanding of Latino/a identities and belonging in the Americas. Course topics (e.g., migration, justice, and environmental wellbeing) are examined through Spanish and English language-based films, readings, and artwork. Engaging with a variety of media, students will learn about global issues, Indigenous populations, and transnational connections (e.g., immigration, cultural adaptations, labor and exploitation, ethnicity and religion), with attention to how gender, class, racial and religious differences shape experiences of belonging.

Oswaldo Estrada

Oswaldo Estrada is a Peruvian-American writer and literary critic. He is a Professor of Latin American Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has authored or edited over a dozen books of literary and cultural criticism. He is the author of a children’s book, El secreto de los trenes (2018), and of three collections of short stories, Luces de emergencia (2019; International Latino Book Awards 2020), Las locas ilusiones y otros relatos de migración (2020; International Latino and Latin American Book Fair Prize 2020), and Las guerras perdidas (2021). He has recently edited the short-story collection Incurables: Relatos de dolencias y males (2020; International Latino Book Awards 2020).

Gabriela Valdivia

Gabriela Valdivia is a professor in the Department of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill and Assistant Dean at Honors Carolina. Gabriela is a feminist political ecologist examining the relationship between resources and socio-environmental inequities. Her research and teaching focus on how environmental injustices shape everyday life experiences and decisions in the Americas. She is an author of the digital project Crude Entanglements, which explores the affective dimensions of oil production; a co-author of Oil, Revolution, and Indigenous Citizenship in Ecuadorian Amazonia; and a co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Critical Resource Geography. She grew up in Peru and conducted ethnographic research in Ecuador and Bolivia, and brings these experiences into her courses on Latin American environments and societies and advanced undergraduate courses on political ecology and global environmental justice.

Ariana Vigil

Ariana Vigil is Professor and Chair of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies and an affiliate of the Program in Latina/o Studies. Her teaching and research focus on contemporary Latinx cultural production; in particular, how gender, race, sexuality and class are deployed in various national and transnational contexts. Her most recent book is Public Negotiations: Gender and Journalism in Contemporary U.S. Latina/o Literature.


IDST 118-001: Fake News, Real Science

TTH, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM | Instructors: Troy Sadler, Shane Peterson, Megan Plenge | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 118L-401

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.

Troy Sadler

Troy Sadler is the Thomas James Distinguished Professor of Experiential Learning in the School of Education. He studies how people learn science and how to improve the teaching of science. He is particularly interested in how people think about complex societal issues that connect to science such as climate change, food security, and genetically engineering. He is also interested in how technologies can support learning experiences and has led efforts to design and test two serious games, one related to biotechnology and another related to water resources. He has taught science in middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate contexts.

Shane Peterson

Shane Peterson is originally from Las Vegas, NV. He received a BA in English with minors in editing and creative writing from BYU and a Ph.D. in language and rhetoric from the University of Washington in Seattle. His research primarily centers on the rhetorics of crisis, apocalypse, and precarity, both historically and in contemporary settings. He is particularly interested in how the affective qualities of crisis rhetorics are embodied and enacted in American political spheres, scientific discourses, religious communities, and more public, everyday contexts. He is also interested in developing new pedagogies of crisis, namely on how to teach writing and research during ongoing periods of disruption and uncertainty.

Megan Plenge

Megan Plenge is a Teaching Assistant Professor of Geological Science. She has always loved teaching science, and particularly loves increasing science literacy by helping people understand the nature of science. She thinks the best way for students to learn how to think like scientists is to address real-world problems. Her approach to science research has been interdisciplinary, including environmental geochemistry, microbial ecology, and water-rock interactions. She loves drinking coffee, reading science fiction books, and commuting on bike or by foot.


IDST 120-001: Myths, Moons, and Methods

MWF, 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM | Instructors: Marc Lange, James Rives, Fabian Heitsch | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 120L-001

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.

Marc Lange

Marc Lange is Theda Perdue Distinguished Professor of Philosophy. He specializes in the philosophy of science and related areas of metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mathematics, along with the philosophy of physics and the philosophy of biology. He won UNC’s 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction and a Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professorship for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. (For a brief sample of his teaching, see

James Rives

James Rives is Kenan Eminent Professor in the Department of Classics at UNC Chapel Hill. He received his PhD at Stanford University in 1990 and has been at Carolina since 2006. His primary research interest is in the religious history of the Roman empire in the first few centuries CE, with secondary interests in Roman historiography and in the cultural and intellectual history of the ancient Mediterranean.

Fabian Heitsch

Fabian Heitsch is a professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UNC Chapel Hill. He received his degree at the University of Heidelberg in 2001, and he came to UNC in 2009. His research interests focus on astrophysical fluid dynamics, investigating the interplay between stars and gas in our Galaxy. He and his group develop computer models of how stars form and explode.


IDST 121-001: Performing and Imagining the American South

TTH, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM | Instructors: Florence Dore, Fitz Brundage, David Garcia | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 121L-001

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? What does the history of slavery in the US South have to do with the emergence of country music, R & B, or Soul? How did Gone With The Wind recreate the plantation myth for global audiences? 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.

Florence Dore

Florence Dore joined the faculty in 2010. She sits on the Steering Committee for Post45, a collective of scholars working on American Literature and Culture since 1945, and was a founding co-editor for the Post45 Book Series at Stanford University Press. She has written two books and numerous articles, and has organized two public conferences on rock and literature, including one at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Dore is a founding member of the Advisory Board for the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies and a rock musician currently working on her second album.

Fitz Brundage

I have taught at UNC since 2002. My broad area of interest in the United States since 1865, with a particular interest in the American South between 1865 and 1930. I teach courses on the social history of American popular music and on American film. I seem compelled to write books on somber topics, including lynching and torture. Currently I am writing a book on prisoner of war camps during the American Civil War. These topics undoubtedly have contributed to my fascination with American popular music, which provides therapy for my soul.

David Garcia

David Garcia is an ethnomusicologist whose research focuses on the music of the Americas with an emphasis on Black music and Latin music of the United States and with a theoretical focus on race and historiography. Garcia has published two books (Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins, 2017, and Arsenio Rodríguez and the Transnational Flows of Latin Popular Music, 2016). His current research focuses on the long nineteenth-century history of Latin music and culture in the United States.


IDST 125-001: The Art and Science of Expertise

TTH, 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM | Instructors: Jeff Greene, Erianne Weight, Anson Dorrance | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 125L-001

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a practical framework of expertise development and self-regulation to pursue mastery in their personal passions. Through collaborative discussions and interdisciplinary instructor perspectives on expertise scholarship and course material, students will gain an understanding of the things that are most important to them, what it takes to become extraordinary in these areas while maintaining their psychological well-being, and a personalized plan to maximize their potential. Topics covered include deliberate practice, the psychology of motivation and positive functioning, accountability, competitiveness, leadership, resilience, happiness, flow, performance measurement, and well-being. The course will include both lectures and collaborative discussions, supplemented by research articles, Ted Talks, books, case studies and experiential exercises. Ultimately, at the end of the semester students will walk away from this class with a better understanding of the things that are most important to them, what it takes to become extraordinary in these areas, how to maintain students’ psychological and emotional well-being, and a personalized plan to do just that.

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene is the McMichael Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 2007 from the University of Maryland at College Park. In his research, he studies the ways people learn using digital resources, and how to help them use those resources more effectively. Specifically, he studies how people can learn to self-regulate their learning, as well as how they can become better critical consumers of what they encounter online and in the world. He has published three books and over 60 book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. Currently, he is the co-Editor of the American Psychological Association (APA) journal Educational Psychologist. He is the recipient of the Richard E. Snow Award for Early Career Contributions in Educational Psychology from Division 15 of APA, and he is an APA Fellow.

Erianne Weight

Erianne Weight is a Professor of Sport Administration who studies the intersection of sport and higher education, college sport organizational structure and culture, and the pursuit of expertise. She is the Director of the Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics, President of the North American Society for Sport Management, Chair of the UNC Faculty Athletics Committee, and consultant for LEAD1 Association and Collegiate Sports Associates. She earned her Ph.D. in Sport Marketing and Management from Indiana University, and her Master of Business Administration and B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Utah where she also competed as a heptathlete and graduate assistant track coach. She is a Research Fellow for the College Sport Research Institute, has published 3 books, over 100 refereed articles and book chapters, has consulted for over 30 organizations, and has given roughly 150 invited and refereed research presentations. She is married to Matt Weight and has two daughters – Aleah and Lillian.

Anson Dorrance

Anson Dorrance is the women's soccer coach at the University of North Carolina. Under Dorrance's leadership at the University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels women’s soccer teams have won 22 of the 42 Women's Soccer National Championships with a .88 winning percentage over 44 seasons. He has led his team to a 101-game unbeaten streak and his players have won 20 National Player of the Year awards. He is not only the most successful coach in the women's game — a six-time National Coach of the Year — but an ambassador of the game. As a player in the ACC he was voted as one of the conference’s Top 50 players in the First 50 years (1953-2003). Many of his former players (including superstar Mia Hamm) have gone on to become the most accomplished players in the world, winning four World Championships (1991, 1999, 2015, 2019) and four Olympic Gold Medals (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012).


IDST 127-001: What is Art? Where is Art?

MWF, 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM | Instructors: Victoria Rovine, Meta DuEwa Jones, Gabrielle Berlinger | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 127L-001

What is art? And where is it found? Museums are devoted to it, scholars study it, collectors spend millions to own it. And yet, definitions of art reveal more about the people doing the defining than they do about the creative expressions themselves. By asking the question—rather than by answering it—this class will explore why art matters as a category, what roles artists play in their societies, and what changing conceptions of art tell us about people, cultures, and values around the world.

Victoria Rovine

Professor Rovine loves all kinds of art. She teaches African art history courses, with a focus on dress and adornment. Her current research is on the roles of textiles in French colonial West Africa, when they were important as cultural symbols and as clothing. Her first book is on a type of cloth from Mali whose patterns and techniques were adapted to new markets and meanings in the late 20th century. Her second book is about African fashion design, looking at how designers reimagine styles from their own cultures to create new artistic statements that both preserve and transform the past.

Meta DuEwa Jones

Professor Meta DuEwa Jones is a researcher, creative scholar, poet, and professor. She believes writing and teaching about art and literature can transform the way we read, see, and think and thus can influence how we live. She currently researches and teaches courses focused on African American literature, music, visual art and graphic novels. Her first book was about innovations in American poetry that were influenced by blues, jazz and hip hop. Her research also illuminated how central gender and sexuality are to writing about music and its attendant visual cultural aspects. Her current book explores how writers and visual artists transform their experiences living or traveling within Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas into expressive media.

Gabrielle Berlinger

Gabrielle A. Berlinger is a folklorist who studies creative expression in everyday life. She consider how people tell stories, dress, cook, dance, make music, and perform religious rituals to be artful acts of communication, all revealing the individual within a tradition. Her first book focused on the nature and significance of material creativity and ritual practice in contemporary Jewish communities. Currently, she is researching the poetics of everyday object collection, preservation, and use in alternative house museums.


IDST 128-001: Never in Polite Company: Talking about Religion and Politics in Public

TTH, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM | Instructors: Christopher Clark, Brandon Bayne, Angela Stuesse | Data Literacy Lab: IDST 128L-001

You may have been told by a loved one that there were two things you should never talk about in polite company: religion and politics. Nothing against those close to you, but we think that’s wrong. In fact, our collective inability to talk about religion and politics threatens to further polarize our public discourse and paralyze democratic institutions. This course offers an introduction to both subjects with the explicit goal of helping us all learn how to speak together and speak to the wider public about religion and politics. Along the way, we will consider how to discuss different ethical perspectives and distinctive approaches to current issues including, but not limited to memory, race, elections, public opinion, gender, sexuality, money, and social media. Students will engage the histories, politics, and religious traditions of communities that historically have been disempowered and interrogate structural processes of bias and inequality with the goal of both interrogating these systems and learning how to speak about resistance and transformation. From campus debates to family gatherings, our aim in this course is to equip you to better speak with others about those things you have been told to never bring up.

Christopher Clark

Christopher Clark’s research focuses on black electoral representation and its influence on political processes. Clark earned his Ph.D. in Political Science in 2010 from the University of Iowa, and he has been on faculty at UNC since July 2012. Chris is a huge sports fan, with his favorite team being the Kansas City Chiefs. He is married to Tiana and is father of Kaya, Cadence, and Kinlee; they all bring him great joy. Chris enjoys reading, cooking, playing sports, and he is active in his church community.

Brandon Bayne


Angela Stuesse

Angela Stuesse is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Global Studies at UNC, where she also directs the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research. In 2018 she co-founded UndocuCarolina, which works to increase visibility, support, and resources for all members of the Carolina community living with the effects of undocumentation. Angela’s research and teaching explores the structural conditions shaping the lives of undocumented and other low wage workers in the United States. It has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Atlantic, CNN, Univision, and NPR, among other print, radio and multimedia outlets.


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