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I-Series courses form the signature of the UMD General Education program. A signature course could take students inside a new field of study, where they may glimpse the utility, elegance and beauty of disciplines that were previously unknown, unwanted, disparaged, or despised. Students may be able to see how such areas of investigation could become a subject for extended study, a major, or even a lifetime commitment. By addressing both contemporary problems and the enduring issues of human existence, the signature courses will speak to the University’s historic role both as a timeless repository of human knowledge and as a source of solutions to burning issues of the day. At their best, the signature courses might do both. The I-Series offers extraordinary opportunities for increasing the level of intellectual discourse on campus and for providing occasions where new pedagogical methods may be introduced. The possibilities are large and exciting.

What are the expectations for students?

Students will take a total of 6 credits or 2 I-Series courses

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I-Series courses are designed to also meet Distributive Studies and / or Diversity requirements and will count for these additional course categories

Students will learn to :

  • Identify the major questions and issues in their I-series course topic.
  • Describe the sources the experts on the topic would use to explore these issues and questions.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic terms, concepts, and approaches that experts employ in dealing with these issues.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the political, social, economic, and ethical dimensions involved in the course.
  • Communicate major ideas and issues raised by the course through effective written and/or oral presentations.
  • Articulate how this course has invited them to think in new ways about their lives, their place in the University and other communities, and/or issues central to their major disciplines or other fields of interest.

Do you want to teach/design an I-Series course?

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At U. of Maryland, an Effort to Make Introductory Courses Extraordinary

Chronicle of Higher Ed

To begin your course design

The I-Series Faculty Board is available to support you in designing your course and provide feedback during the course design and general education proposal process.

Course development funds of $5,000 will be provided to the instructor for each newly approved I-Series course. Funding will not be extended to self-support offerings of I-Series courses (Summer, Winter, Freshman Connection, etc.).

An example of an I-Series big question might be teaching a course in history by asking students to explore: When and how can riots be morally justified?

I-Series big questions are described as:

  • Current or enduring
  • Relevant to multiple disciplines
  • Complex, lacking one “right” answer
  • Inspirational
  • Those that encourage thinking at the edge of current knowledge
  • Providing opportunity for debate
  • Having potential to change how students think or act

Active learning engages students in the learning process - examples include

  • Discussion
  • Debate
  • Project based learning
  • Teamwork

See General Education Teamwork Resources and TLTC


I-Series Faculty Learning Community: Meetings and Resources

Please join the Dean for Undergraduate Studies and other faculty teaching I-Series to approaches to meeting the I-Series mission.

Meeting dates: Coming soon!

Explore resources generated from prior meetings in this google folder



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Smith, A. C., Roberts, D., Gaines, R. The I‐Series: Evoking Intellect, Inquiry, and Imagination to Engage Students in Real World Challenges. AAC&U General Education and Assessment conference. 2013. Boston, MA. (talk)

teacher wearing a mask in front of white board

Primiano, Samantha J., Ananya Krishnan, and Thurka Sangaramoorthy. 2020. “Plagues, Pathogens, and Pedagogical Decolonization: Reflecting on the Design of a Decolonized Pandemic Syllabus.Teaching and Learning Anthropology Journal 3, no. 2: 47–60.

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