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Gen Ed I-Series Renamed as Big Question Courses

By Laura Cech

Can aggression and violence be prevented? How do we prepare for future climate uncertainty? Why does fiction matter?

Those and other big-picture quandaries are central to the university’s newly renamed “Big Question” courses.

The signature series of the University of Maryland’s general education requirements—formerly called “I-Series”—is getting the name upgrade for Fall 2024 to better reflect the defining essence of the courses: enduring and contemporary questions that probe important issues, spark imagination and demand multilayered answers.

The quantitative aspects of the requirements—two classes, six credits total—remain unchanged. Students who have previously taken two I-Series courses do not need to take additional Big Question courses.

“The name ‘Big Question’ better conveys what students can expect from this suite of courses,” said Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies William A. Cohen. “Students will be able to engage with the complexity of these issues, navigating inherent ambiguities as they weigh facts and balance other perspectives with their own.”

In Fall 2024, students can choose from more than 120 Big Question classes, covering a wide variety of topics that often bridge disciplines, such as how social media is changing the world, the causal connections between yeast and civilization, and why it’s so difficult to define what makes a fulfilling life.

Since its debut as the signature courses of the general education program in 2009, more than 300 courses have been offered in the category.

You know your Harry Potter house and your inner Disney princess. But what is your big question? Take this quiz to find out.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.