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.
Data Literacy Component
The fourth credit hour of each Triple-I course will be dedicated to data literacy. 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.
“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!”
Student in IDST-190 & IDST-190L
“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.”
Student in IDST-190 & IDST-190L
“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.”
Student in IDST-190 & IDST-190L
Fall 2022 Course Offerings
There are a variety of courses you can take to meet the Triple-I requirement:
IDST 116-001: Gender
|MWF, 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM | Instructors: Maxine Eichner, Elizabeth Olson, Cary Levine | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-116|
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, 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.
Elizabeth Olson is Professor of Geography and Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds an M.A. in Political Science/Public Policy and a Ph.D. in Geography, both from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She was previously on faculty at Lancaster University, England, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She researches care, ethics, and geographies of inequality. She has published widely on topics related to normative ethics, the geographies of religion and spirituality, and youth and young people, and is co-editor of Religion and Place: Landscapes, Politics and Piety (2012) and The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies (2020). She loves teaching and offers classes related to global inequality and global theory, cultural landscapes, and geographies of religion.
Cary Levine is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His recent book, Pay for Your Pleasures: Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon (University of Chicago Press, 2013), examines the work of three important Southern California artists. He has also written criticism for several magazines and has published numerous essays for exhibition catalogues. His current scholarship focuses on the intersections of art, politics and digital technologies.
IDST 118-001: Fake News, Real Science
|TTH, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM | Instructors: Troy Sadler, Megan Plenge, Kate Sheppard | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-118|
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 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.
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.
Kate Sheppard is a Teaching Associate Professor in the School of Media and Journalism and a senior enterprise editor at HuffPost, leading the environment and economy teams. She has spent most of her career working in nonprofit and investigative news, and has a particular interest in developing sustainable business models for and facilitating audience engagement with news. Her writing has been recognized with awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Online News Association and the Deadline Club, and featured in the Best American Science and Nature Writing.
IDST 119-001: Food: People, Politics, Policy
|TTH, 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM | Instructors: Sarah E. Dempsey, Melinda Beck, Lindsey Smith Taillie | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-119|
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.
Sarah E. Dempsey
Sarah E. Dempsey is a critical organizational communication scholar who thinks, writes, and teaches about work, labor, and the dynamics of communication and power. Her current research examines the values and practices animating the living wage movement and its impacts on the restaurant industry. Before becoming a professor, she worked as a: dishwasher, restaurant server, river boat ticket seller, salesperson, tractor driver, environmental educator, and web site developer. If she could be anything in the world, she’d be a detective.
Melinda Beck is a Professor in the Department of Nutrition. Her PhD is in microbiology and immunology. So why is she a faculty member in a Nutrition department? Because she learned that what you eat can have a profound effect on your body’s ability to fight off infections. She loves teaching undergraduates, and she wants to instill a life-long passion for learning in all students. One of her sons graduated from UNC and he now works for a non-profit that assists the homeless with obtaining permanent housing. Professor Beck’s hope is all students find careers in an area they are passionate about.
Lindsey Smith Taillie
Lindsey Smith Taillie studies the impact of policies on diet and health. In the US, she conducts experiments using the convenience store lab (UNC Mini Mart) to examine how changes in the food environment affects what parents and children buy and eat. Internationally, she works in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and South Africa to examine the impact of policies like bans on junk food marketing to kids and taxes and warning labels on sugary drinks. She has two daughters (5 and 2) whose favorite foods are sauerkraut and olives, and an enormous poodle whose favorite food is microwaved hot dogs.
IDST 190-012: Humans and the Cosmos
|TTH, 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM | Instructors: Molly Worthen, Joaquin Drut, Gabriel Trop | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-012|
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to some of the most essential and exciting debates about humanity’s relationship to the universe. We explore such topics as the beginning of existence, the nature of time, contact with the supernatural world, and predictions about the end of all things–from the perspective of philosophy, physics, history, and related disciplines.
Molly Worthen teaches courses in the history of religion and ideology, primarily in the U.S. and Canada. Dr. Worthen’s last book was a history of recent conflicts among American evangelicals, and Dr. Worthen is currently writing a book about the history of charisma as a religious and political idea (Dr. Worthen recently released an audio course on Audible called “Charismatic Leaders Who Remade America,” which ranges from the Puritans to Donald Trump). Dr. Worthen is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and writes mainly about religion, politics and higher education.
Joaquin Drut is a quantum many-particle theorist by training. That means that Dr. Drut spends most of his time thinking about how to calculate and predict the physics of systems of many particles, when they are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. Some of those systems are studied in labs on Earth, but the most interesting ones are deep inside the most massive stars, where the elements are created at unimaginably high densities and temperatures. Dr. Drut regularly teaches a course on computational and mathematical methods for physics majors, where the importance of abstract linear algebra and generalized Fourier analysis as concepts underlying physical laws are emphasized.
Gabriel Trop has intellectual interests in philosophy from antiquity to the present focusing on theories of art (aesthetics), science, and literature, with a special emphasis on German and French literature in the long nineteenth century. In his teaching, he tends to explore resonances between literature, film, politics, and philosophical existentialism; Dr. Trop has taught previous courses on Freedom and Terror in German Philosophy, and on the films of Christopher Nolan and German Romanticism, for example. As a classical musician (cellist), he is also interested in the aesthetics of music.
IDST 190-013: Borders and Boundaries
|TTH, 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM | Instructors: Nadia Yaqub, Jennifer Gates-Foster, Banu Gökariksel | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-013|
What are borders and boundaries? Have they always existed? How do they come into being and how have conceptualizations of borders and boundaries changed throughout human history? What can people do when borders and boundaries impinge on their lives? How do people experience borders and border-crossings? These are some of the questions we will address in Borders and Boundaries, particularly through case studies anchored in the Middle East. We will consider ancient theories of borders and boundaries as material objects and in relation to human bodies and political institutions. We will also consider the role of borders and boundaries in the formation of culture, identity, and the state. By studying the cultural and political meaning of both ancient and modern borders and boundaries, we will examine the role these geographical structures play in producing differences between groups of people, particularly in situations of displacement and migration. Throughout the course our study of specific historical and political cases will be supplemented with analysis of imaginative works (literature, films, and art) that arise directly out of the creation and maintenance, as well as the crossing, of borders and boundaries. This interdisciplinary framework will encourage students to consider borders and boundaries at the level of theory and of the lived experiences of specific communities and individuals.
Nadia Yaqub is professor of Arab culture in the Department of Asian Studies and adjunct professor in the department of English and Comparative literature. She received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has treated Arab cultural texts ranging from medieval literature and contemporary oral poetry to modern prose fiction and visual culture. Her recent publications include Bad Girls of the Arab World (University of Texas Press 2017), a volume of essays co-edited with Rula Quawas, and Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution (University of Texas Press, 2018), a monograph about Palestinian cinema of the long 1970s. She is currently working on a book about engaged cinema from the Arab world of the 1970s and 1980s and an edited volume about visual representations of Gaza.
Jennifer Gates-Foster is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Curriculum in Archaeology at UNC Chapel Hill. She received her PhD at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2005 and has been at Carolina since 2013. Her primary research interest is in the archaeology of the Hellenistic and early Roman Eastern Mediterranean, especially Egypt, with a focus on the construction of identity in border regions.
Banu Gökarıksel is Professor of Geography and The Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education at The Graduate School at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She also has an appointment in the Curriculum of Global Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and adjunct appointment in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. She received her PhD in Geography from the University of Washington, Seattle and MA in Sociology/Anthropology from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. Her research analyzes embodied and lived experiences of religion and secularism, the production of social difference, and the formation of subjects, borders, and territory.
IDST 190-017: What is Art? Where is Art?
|TTH, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM | Instructors: Victoria Rovine, Meta DuEwa Jones, Gabrielle Berlinger | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-017|
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.
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 the French colonial West Africa, when they were important as symbols and as commodities. 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.
Professor Gabrielle Berlinger is a folklorist who studies creative expression in everyday life. She considers the ways we speak, dress, dance, make music, design homes, cook, perform rituals, and observe religious faiths, all to be artful acts of communication. Her first book focused on the nature and significance of urban folklife, Jewish material creativity, and ritual practice. Currently, she is researching the poetics of everyday object collection, preservation, and use in alternative house museums.
IDST 190-020: The Future of Food: Technology, Policy, Culture
|MWF, 9:05 AM – 9:55 AM | Instructors: John Bruno, Caela O’Connell, Anna Krome-Lukens | Data Literacy Class: IDST 190L-020|
The course will explore a range of topics around the food we eat before shifting focus to how we might grow food in the future. We will cover different disciplinary perspectives including science fiction, anthropology, public policy and marine ecology. The course begins with a history of food gathering: how has our love of and need for food influenced our social and political structures, trade and conflict among cultures, and the exploration of the planet? Students will learn about the impacts of feeding 8 billion humans on the natural world and strategies for reducing these impacts. A survey of recent innovations in food tech will be supported by historical background of how technology has shaped our relationship with food. We will use short fiction, one novel, films, and primary literature (journal articles) to compile, contrast and synthesize diverse perspectives on food systems of the past, present and future.
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 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, Caela enjoys baking for friends, hiking (nothing too steep), taekwondo, tracking hurricanes, and traveling with her family.
Anna Krome-Lukens completed her PhD in U.S. History at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the history of social welfare and public health policies, particularly the history of North Carolina’s eugenics and social welfare programs in the early 20th century. Her current book project, The Reform Imagination: How Eugenics Built the Southern Welfare State, demonstrates the lasting influence of eugenics in shaping welfare policies and conceptions of citizenship. 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.