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Civic Life and Leadership Minor

A minor in civic life and leadership will offer students interdisciplinary training in civics, the humanities, and scientific literacy, while promoting a culture of reasoned and respectful disagreement, and openness to changing one’s mind. The minor is designed for students across the college to tackle some of the most challenging issues confronting society in the 21st century. All students, regardless of area of academic focus and career aspirations, are members of our pluralistic communities, and therefore, can all benefit from a better grounding in how to engage productively and thoughtfully with one another, especially across differences.

The objective of the minor is to empower students to be lifelong citizens-scholars committed to confronting the challenges that face our democracy. The minor in civic life and leadership examines the foundations and origins of democracy and the big questions surrounding civic life. The minor also encourages students to understand historical and contemporary struggles in democracy and asks students to wrestle with contentious issues today. It also develops skills and capacities that are critical to engage in effective public discourse.


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must:

  • take at least nine hours of their minor “core” requirements at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the minor core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for minor or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

SCLL 100Foundations of Civic Life and Leadership3
SCLL 101Practice of Civic Life and Leadership3
Two electives, from three categories of courses listed below (the two electives must not be from the same category)6
SCLL —Capstone (in development)3
Total Hours15

Through the capstone, students will have the opportunity to participate in an internship or create an original project (e.g., series of op-eds, podcast, vlog) on a contemporary issue in American democracy.

Students also have the opportunity to attend and participate in events put on by the Program for Public Discourse.

A student uses a microscope in a laboratory

Scientific Evidence and Engagement Category

This category is an opportunity for students to explore questions about the relevance and role of scientific inquiry in a functioning democracy. These courses focus on ways in which scientific reasoning and knowledge can enable progress and understanding on issues that are relevant to civic life and leadership. They will do more than simply discuss a scientific issue that is relevant to social, moral, or political life; they will deeply engage with the connection between science and society, with the goal of understanding long-standing societal tensions and debates through the lens of science.

SCLL 200Science and Society3
ASTR 205Ideas in Action Gen Ed The Medieval Foundations of Modern Cosmology3
PHIL 143Ideas in Action Gen Ed AI and the Future of Humanity: Philosophical Issues about Technology and Human Survival H3
PHIL 150Ideas in Action Gen Ed Theory, Evidence, and Understanding in Science H3
PHIL 154Ideas in Action Gen Ed Philosophy of the Social Sciences3
PHIL 265Ethics, Politics, and Technology3
PHIL 352Ideas in Action Gen Ed Sex and Death, Life and Health, Species and Evolution: The Philosophy of Biology3
POLI 417Ideas in Action Gen Ed Advanced Political Psychology H3
PSYC 574Science of Moral Understanding3

H Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Intellectual History and Humanities Category

Through these courses, students will learn about how humanity has understood itself over time, especially how we understand our relationship to civil society and government. The arts and humanities often demonstrate how ideas about society are enacted in daily life. Reading historical texts invites a kind of imaginative sympathy that is central to civility and productive civil debate. In addition, these courses train students in the critical analysis of primary texts and the ability to evaluate, form, and articulate arguments using textual evidence.

COMM 572Ideas in Action Gen Ed Public Policy Argument3
CMPL 220Ideas in Action Gen Ed Global Authors: Jane Austen H3
CMPL 379Ideas in Action Gen Ed Cowboys, Samurai, and Rebels in Film and Fiction H3
HIST 121Ideas in Action Gen Ed History of Religion in North America3
HIST 360Ideas in Action Gen Ed Ideas in Modern America H3
HIST 510Human Rights in the Modern World H3
MUSC 291Ideas in Action Gen Ed Music and Politics3
PHIL 60Ideas in Action Gen Ed First-Year Seminar: Plato’s Symposium and Its Influence on Western Art and Literature H3
PHIL 80Ideas in Action Gen Ed First-Year Seminar: Short Stories and Contemporary Social Problems3
PHIL 110Ideas in Action Gen Ed Philosophical Texts that Changed the World: An Introduction to Philosophy through Great Works H3
PHIL 210Ideas in Action Gen Ed Wonder, Myth, and Reason: Introduction to Ancient Greek Science and Philosophy H3
PHIL 381Ideas in Action Gen Ed Philosophy and Film H3
POLI 87Ideas in Action Gen Ed First-Year Seminar: What Does it Mean to be a Good Citizen? 3
POLI 280Ideas in Action Gen Ed American Political Thought H3
POLI 472Problems of Modern Democratic Theory H3
PLCY 362Ideas in Action Gen Ed Ethics and Food Policy3
PLCY 340Ideas in Action Gen Ed Justice in Public Policy H3

H Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Civic and Political Institutions Category

The Civic and Political Institutions category is an opportunity for students to critically examine the structure, role, and mission of the institutions that contribute to civic and political life. Courses satisfying this category will focus on particular institutions including (but not limited to) legislatures, courts, administrative agencies, law enforcement agencies, universities and/or nonprofit organizations. The courses will engage with the rules, norms and/or laws that impact the functioning of one or more institutions that are relevant to civic life, with the goal of understanding how those institutions can and should advance democratic values.

PHIL 140Ideas in Action Gen Ed Knowledge and Society H3
PHIL 280Ideas in Action Gen Ed Morality, Law, and Justice: Issues in Legal Philosophy H3
PHIL 480Philosophy of Law3
POLI 100Ideas in Action Gen Ed American Democracy in Changing Times H, F3
POLI 420Legislative Politics H3
POLI 424Ideas in Action Gen Ed Legislative Procedure in Congress3
POLI 405Ideas in Action Gen Ed Local Politics in the United States3
POLI 412United States National Elections H3
PLCY 310Microeconomic Foundations of Public Policy3

H Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

The Bell Tower viewed from a distance